Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Money talks

As you probably know, Cuba is almost certainly the only country in the world where there are two types of national currency: one for the rich and well connected, and one for the poor.

You see, ordinary Cubans must do with ordinary Cuban pesos, which are largely worthless - you get 25 ordinary pesos for every US dollar on the black market.

On the other hand, if you are a tourist or a senior member of the Communist Party or just lucky enough to work in the tourist industry, you will have access to a parallel currency called the peso convertible.

And these pesos, which were introduced back in 1994, are worth plenty. In fact, each peso convertible is worth about one US dollar, give or take a cent.

Now we learn that the peso convertible is about to get a major design revamp. The new notes will be made from better, more secure material, according to Granma, the propaganda sheet of the Castro regime.

But in typical style, they have failed to reveal the reasons for the new notes.

You have to read about it not in Granma but in this Reuters report (in Spanish), which confirms that there appears to be a huge counterfeit racket on the island involving the peso convertible.

According to an unnamed banking official, “there are lots of counterfeit notes out there”.

Needless to say, Cubans don't bother falsifying the ordinary, revolutionary pesos.


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