14ymedio, Havana, 20 July 2023 — The comments of readers in the official Cuban press have become the sounding board of widespread unrest in a country corroded by inflation and scarcity. Faced with the inability of the authorities to manage the economy, citizens mock the parliamentary debates on price controls, which Cubadebate describes as a “complex but decisive battle for the future of the Revolution.”
“They can no longer continue to justify all their mistakes by mentioning the blockade, while some become millionaires at the expense of the sweat of those who work. If we don’t do something, this socialist revolution has very little left,” says a reader with the pseudonym pjodalr. Like him, dozens of users are expressing their frustrations.
It was no wonder, being one of the most sensitive issues for Cubans, that the voluntarist perspective of the leaders and the absence of solutions caused a flood of disagreements. Vladimir Regueiro, Minister of Finance and Prices, acknowledged to the deputies the lack of control of inflation, but then shielded himself behind the international panorama.
The price index, he said, grew by 39% at the end of 2022, while since the beginning of 2023, it has grown by 18%. If the percentage is compared to that of the first half of 2022, prices have increased by an alarming 45%. The minister indicated that there is a governmental “lack of objectivity” when it comes to prices and acknowledged that many times they were legislated without even knowing if the fixed cost was “real.”
After the intervention of Regueiro, the president of Parliament, Esteban Lazo, again placed the problem – as he did during the opening of the sessions – in the structural: “If there is no supply and production, we will not achieve effective control of prices,” he said.
The Parliament also discussed on Wednesday the unfortunate state of the agri-food sector. The situation is summarized in two words: “non-compliances and decreases,” says the report presented to the deputies. Without fuels, fertilizers or insecticides, the agricultural production has been catastrophic: 68% compliance with the plan. The production of meat, milk and eggs also failed.
For readers, the leaders live in a “futuristic” world, a “utopia” that never considers the present reality. “The unstoppable dollar and galloping inflation,” summarizes user Gilberto Reyes. “What is the State’s solution for the employee who has no money at all, or for retirees?”
“Pork meat at almost 500 pesos; a pound of rice at 200 pesos; a liter of oil, 700 and 800 pesos; what price controls are we talking about then?” said the reader identified as R. Meanwhile, user José Antonio Ruiz pushes his disgust to the limit: “It’s much ado about nothing. The same issues, the same reasons for the failures, the same explanations to try to alleviate the dissatisfactions of the population, the same justifications for the problems … without even being able to talk about expectations in the short term that give way to hope.”
“The only thing that has gone down in price is beer, and that has been achieved by the private enterprises, not the State,” mocked the reader Pepe, while another described the situation of the informal market as “total anarchy.” Some readers complained about Cubadebate’s censorship of their comments, such as Selma González, who reflected on the uselessness of the police in the face of crime in a comment that was “correct and adjusted to the subject” that the media eliminated.
The conclusion, after several days of parliamentary discussion, is clear: “What a waste! So much uncertainty!”
Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, who has closely followed the talks in Parliament, criticized the “nonsense” of the deputies’ opinions and their inaccuracies.
And he concluded: “It could have been the way the press reports it, but what we read today about the ’discussions’ in the committees of the National Assembly is reminiscent of a sitcom. It’s not clear if it is a problem of technical incapacity or of ’directives’ that have been taught.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.