The Pittance That Cubans Earn / Osmar Laffita Rojas

HAVANA, Cuba, October, – After five years of the presidency of General Raul Castro, the country remains trapped by severe economic problems. Instead of improving, the economy is worsening.

The Cuban economy isn’t even treading water. It’s enough to look at the low salaries of the workers, which in the period of 2008-2012, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), nationally averaged 17.70 dollars per worker.

The unions, directed by the government’s Cuban Workers Union (CTC), limit themselves to suggesting that salaries will increase when productivity increases.

To that we add the dual currency system, in force for twenty years.

The disastrous results in the first half of this year have led to the decapitalization of a great part of the system of production and basic services. From the monetary and financial point of view there are no real conditions to proceed with the elimination of the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only currency, and much less for it to circulate with parity to the U.S. dollar.

Enough already with the lies and fooling the Cuban people. End hunger, misery and poverty in Cuba.

Let’s look at how wages behaved (in dollars) by province and sector in 2012.

According to the National Office of Statistics and Information, of the 15 provinces plus the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, those reporting higher average monthly wages per worker were Ciego de Avila ($ 20.60), Matanzas ($19.32), Cienfuegos ($19.00), Sancti Spiritus ($18.92) and Pinar del Rio ($18.84).

Those who reported the lowest monthly wages were Isla de la Juventud ($18.04), Guantanamo ($17.36) and Santiago de Cuba ($17.32).

The sectors with higher wages paid in 2012 were construction ($23.20), Mining and Quarrying ($22.64), Electricity, Gas and Water ($20.80) and Agriculture and Fisheries ($20.52).

The poorest paid sectors were Services Companies ($17.28), Community Services ($17.00) and Trade, Food and Hotels ($15.04).

Such miserable salaries, that aren’t even enough to eat badly for two weeks, are the cause of the black market and corruption.

The salaries are even lower in Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. In both provinces in the last five years there have been no new sources of employment, young people, on reaching working age, decide — at whatever cost — to emigrate to Havana, although they have to pass through a thousand and one nights.

Young people work miracles to get a place as a shopkeeper, a worker in a snack bar or restaurant or to achieve the golden dream of a being staff in a tourist hotel. The dollars they “find” (generally no less than $200 a month), not infrequently with shady under the table deals, allow them standards of living that are horrifyingly different from what a doctor or any other professional earns.

The monetary union that the government says it is going to carry out will change nothing about the miserable salaries Cubans earn.

Osmar Laffita Rojas

Cubanet, 22 October 2013