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realclearworld

Pre-Castro Cuba had problems but “a worthless peso” was not one of them!

My father has a copy of a pre-Castro Cuban peso framed in his home office.  I see it every Sunday when we visit my parents and enjoy some of my mom's Cuban food.

It's been on that wall for a long time, together with that quote from Jose Marti:

“Nunca son más bellas las playas del destierro que cuando se les dice adiós." (Thanks to my friend Jorge Ponce for writing about this)

The Cuban peso and the Marti quote have always reminded us of Cuba.

They bring back  Cuba and the stories that we would hear daily at the dinner table growing up in Wisconsin.

My parents were completely committed to the proposition that we'd always remember Cuba.  I am very happy that they were!

The following story about life in the island brought my father's Cuban peso back to life. .

We just learned today that Cubans have something else to worry about:

"Cubans are taking another hit to their wallets as the government announces an increase in the cost of powdered milk, a staple of every home with children and basic to the diet of nearly everyone on the island.

The measure will not affect the state-subsidized supply of powdered milk to children aged seven and under.

They receive three kilograms of powdered milk at the equivalent of 40 U.S. cents a kilogram, paid for in ordinary Cuban pesos.

But at hard-currency stores, the price of a half-kilogram package will go up 45 cents from $2.90 to $3.35. A kilogram package will go up by 85 cents or from $5.75 to $6.60.

These stores sell in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) comparable to the U.S. dollar and already have a 240 percent markup on their products.

The average state employee earns the equivalent of between $20 to $30 USD a month and spends up to 80 percent of their income just on food so any price hike puts the family budget into a tailspin.

"Everything is difficult and this price rise will make them more difficult," said Magdalena, a 45-year-old woman who has a 15-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son.

"If prices go up in the shops, the price on the black market will also increase so we won't be able to buy as much.""

Another day and another failure "para la revolucion"!

By the way, pre-Castro had its problems and we've been very frank about them. The island had its share of political problems and corruption was a factor.  My parents were there in the 1950's and they are the first ones to recognize the island's shortcomings.

At the same time, "milk problems" caused by a weak and worhtless currency was not one of them.

There was lots of "leche cubana" (Cuban milk) to go around and a strong Cuban peso to handle any imports if bad weather or some other reason, made that necessary.

Imported milk, or price fluctuations of such imports, was not something that our mothers or "abuelas" (grandmothers) had to worry about.  They had plenty of milk brands to choose from when they went to "la bodega".

The island produced enough milk and had sound money, as we see here and many other studies.

Again, another failure for "la revolucion" and more pain for the ones in the island!

And another reminder of how bad "esta revolucion" has been for Cuba and Cubans!

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

1 comment to Pre-Castro Cuba had problems but “a worthless peso” was not one of them!

  • asombra

    One of pre-Castro Cuba's big problems is that it didn't appreciate how good it had it, or how much progress it had made in such a short time, or how much more progress it could have made if it had stayed on track. It blew the political problem of Batista into something much bigger and much worse than it was, and the corresponding over-reaction wound up leading to a far worse situation, a veritable disaster.

    Those who took the "revolutionary" route, even those who did it in good faith, wound up hurting Cuba big time. They were at best well-intentioned fools, and folly has a price.