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realclearworld

Reports from Cuba: Now People Don’t Want the ‘Chavitos’ (CUCs)

By Alberto Mendez Castello in Translating Cuba:

Now People Don’t Want the “Chavitos” (CUCs)

Currency speculation has the island on the edge of mental collapse. Money with which to pay wages is scarce. Peso equivalents to the dollar aren’t sold. Informal money changes want real dollars.

Puerto Padre, Cuba — The State Currency Exchange (CADECA) resumed the sale of convertible pesos (CUC) today, after some interrupted for lack of non-convertible, i.e.  Cuban pesos (CUP). “We are exchanging any quantify of convertible pesos for national money (CUP), without any problem,” an employee of CADECA said this morning, when asked by this correspondent. “For me, they changed 24 CUC at 24-to-one, and you see the 100 peso notes they gave me in exchange,” said a man after leaving CADECA.

Indeed, the curiosity of the young man was not unfounded: although the date on the notes was 2008, the paper and ink “smelled” as if it had just come off the presses. The private exchangers don’t accept CUCs now because, simply, people won’t by them.”

“I brought seven hundred CUC here and I haven’t sold one,” said the exchanger, about noon, regarding the convertible pesos popularly known as chavitos. “The people who don’t receive remittances don’t have money, and those who do receive them don’t need chavitos.”

In Puerto Padre, CUC used to be common in people’s pockets; a large community of immigrants, primarily based in the U.S., sent dollars relatives and friends which reached the recipients already changed into CUCs through Miami agencies engaged in this business.

The same applies to medical personnel or those of other institutions, who, in filling government posts in Latin America and Africa, are also holders of convertible pesos. Interestingly, these government collaborators are frequent customers of private moneychangers who operate illegally, buying U.S. dollars to carry on their missions abroad to buy appliances and other goods that it would otherwise be impossible to bring to Cuba with what are paid for their “internationalist” collaborations.

“I don’t buy chavitos now, only dollars in large bills, all they have,” whispers an underground exchanger on the corner. For every 100 dollar bill, today he pays 97 pesos.

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