Thursday, March 20, 2008

Consumerism, Castro style

Under the terrific headline, "The inalienable right to a toaster—but not quite yet", the London-based magazine The Economist concludes in this week's edition that while some changes are starting to emerge in Cuba under Raul Castro they are at best, modest.

According to the magazine, the Castro regime has been able to lift restrictions on the sale of some consumer goods such as DVD players and even computers because Venezuelan aid has allowed it to overhaul the electricity grid.

"Officials also know that the grid will not immediately be overwhelmed: monthly wages average $17," the magazine says.

"For those who don't receive remittances from relatives abroad, electronic gadgets will remain unaffordable. Even for those who do they will be expensive: they will only be available in state-owned shops that apply a mark-up of around 200%. "

Which kind of hits the nail on the head, I think: the regime not only has a monopoly on the sale of just about everything on the island, but it has no qualms about profiteering in a manner that would put even the most greediest of capitalist to shame.


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