How Much Does 100 Dollars Weigh in Cuban Pesos?

Open the zipper, the content appears: 26,000 pesos, in thick chunks of 50-peso bills. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spíritus | 30 December 2023 — Edith has been “hunting” for a few pounds of malanga and two pork shanks for weeks. This end of the year, her house in the Los Olivos neighborhood, in Sancti Spíritus, has become a base of operations. The budget: 100 dollars that her brother sent her months ago from the United States. Her objective: to change the currency with the utmost discretion and outside her neighborhood, where the military and cadres of the provincial government are not in short supply.

On the other side of the city, in the humble neighborhood of Jesús María, Carlos has been collecting pesos all year to buy an electric pressure cooker. Before acquiring the precious artifact, he has to get dollars, go to the bank and witness their transformation – painful after “letting go of the green” – into freely convertible currency (MLC), a currency invented by the Cuban regime.

Thanks to social networks, Edith finds in Carlos the perfect candidate for her transaction. They meet at her house. With some embarrassment, Carlos deposits a worn black briefcase on the sofa that Edith examines with suspicion. He opens the zipper, the content appears: 26,000 pesos, in thick chunks of 50-peso bills with the face, repeated 520 times, of Calixto García.

The weight of the 520 banknotes of 50 pesos is 1.05 pounds. (14ymedio)

In turn, Edith gives Carlos the thin $100 bill, with a lonely Benjamin Franklin printed in green. In the room where the exchange takes place, the television is turned on at full volume – the old trick against the gossips of the neighborhood – with the Christmas speech of the first secretary of the Communist Party of Sancti Spíritus.

“All united we will be able to move towards a better year, where the dreams, achievements and aspirations of Sancti Spíritus in progress will consolidate the unity of our people and, surely, will lead us to achieve new victories, no matter how difficult the circumstances are,” says the leader from his air-conditioned office, protected by the picture of an already senile Fidel Castro.

“But the resistance of our people, their creativity, the day-to-day effort have not made us give up our dreams,” he continues, but Edith turns off the device and says goodbye to Carlos, who goes at full speed to the bank, and from there to the hard currency store, where – he trusts – he expects to find his coveted electric pressure cooker.

Before looking for the malangas and the meat, Edith picks up the 26,000 pesos from the sofa and places it on a scale. How much does a thin 100-dollar bill weigh in pesos? The answer – amazing – is on the screen of the device: 1.05 pounds of Cuban paper.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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