Monday, October 16, 2006

Making ends meet in Cuba

There is an interesting story in the Sunday edition of The Miami Herald about how ordinary Cubans make ends meet.

It usually involves what Cubans call resolver, which is a polite term for scamming: taking home merchandise from work that can then be sold for cash or exchanged for other, much-needed goods.

It’s illegal, of course, but it’s the only way to help supplement the Castro regime’s ridiculously low wages for State employees, who account for about 99.9 per cent of the workforce. The average wage? The equivalent of $US15.00 a month.

Scamming is nothing new, either.

Back when I was growing up in the town of Banes in the 1960s, everyone had to resolver, as I recount in my book, Child of the Revolution: Growing up in Castro’s Cuba.

For years, my mother would sell or exchange some of her dresses and blouses with some friendly campesinos outside the town for fresh milk, which was strictly rationed.

And during the time my father was put in charge by the Government of a biscuit and noodle factory, he used to illegally bring home flour and butter and even eggs - goods you rarely, if ever, saw at the shops. He wasn't alone, either. Everyone else at the factory did it. Otherwise, you went hungry.

The most heart-breaking aspect of the Herald article is the fact that 40 years later, nothing much has changed.


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