Something That Can’t Be Fixed in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 20 December 2017 — With a little money, housing can be arranged; with fiscal resolution and a legal framework that offers real confidence to the investor, the growth of the national economy is stimulated; with an effective campaign aimed at achieving social awareness, the problem of moral degradation is solved; and if our decadent politicians want to cede a portion of their political will, we will restore the civil liberties that we Cubans demand. What has no solution, at least not in the short term, is the very poor state of the national pension fund that is incapable of guaranteeing Cuban citizens a dignified old age.

In 2005, the Cuban government tried to confront the problem, or rather, tried to shake it up, when it began the so-called “updating of the socialist model” by cutting state jobs and dismissing officials who without a vocation, had no choice but to take refuge in a nascent private sector which offers no coverage in the pension system.

Thus we saw the transformation of doctors and soldiers who, taking up an abandoned line of work became farmers; and lawyers and engineers who left their professions to serve as taxi drivers or sellers of french fries.

It is true, by way of compensation, that the country’s management ordered an increase in the monthly payment to all retirees by enacting laws in this regard; but the continued devaluation of the Cuban peso reduced the real value of the amount of money received by a pensioner so that today, they receive more but it is worth less.

Without wanting to look for culprits but rather to draw attention to finding solutions, it is not difficult to understand that irresponsible policies caused our island to today have one of the oldest populations on the planet. The reasons are well known, emigration increased over time which, in parallel, decreased the birth rate and population growth.

For all elderly, retirement is a desire; except for the Cuban president who, according to the current Social Security law, exceeds his “expiration” limit by more than 20 years, the required number to retire and receive a pension.

But for the common citizen, it is shameful to know that the country exhausted the financial sustainability of the pension system, and that it stretched the fiscal deficit  so much that today there is not enough money to pay pensions throughout the years of retirement.

In the current circumstances, for the Cuban State to offer certain status to the working population near retirement, the government would have to increase the contribution paid by island workers and, at the same time, increase the retirement age to the ridiculous and extravagant age of 200 years.

To give you an idea, a strong and healthy young man, born in 1997 and with the rights of a resident on the island, would have to work more than his whole life to be able to collect a pension. Of course, the issue of the disabled is a whole other story, one which, for different reasons ,just gets worse and worse.