Interesting piece from the Miami Herald, which has infiltrated a correspondent into the Cuba. Some excerpts (emphasis mine):
CARDENAS, Cuba — Loraicys is 27 years old, has never worked, and refuses to take just any job. She is not alone.
As Raúl Castro embarks on an ambitious plan to kick-start the communist nation’s economy, he faces daunting challenges: Many Cubans simply do not work.
Decades of measly salaries and vast government subsidies have kept many young people off the labor rolls because it’s more lucrative to hustle on the street. Others live comfortably enough off remittances from Miami and elsewhere.
According to Granma, the communist party newspaper:
• 20 percent of the working age population in Havana is unemployed.
• Nearly half of them turn down jobs when they are offered.
• 17 percent of the more than 17,000 recent technical school graduates did not show up for the jobs they were offered. Another 200 of them stopped coming in after a few months.
Many Cubans told The Miami Herald said they did not work because it just was not worth it. The dual currency system that pays state salaries in nearly worthless pesos and sells most consumer goods in a dollar-based tender called the CUC, means average monthly salaries don’t cover the cost of basic goods such as shoes, which can cost three times as much as a $10 monthly wage.
Eduardo, a 30-year-old stagehand who got his first job four years ago, said most of his friends worked for the first time when they were in their late 20s — after emigrating to Florida.
”Why was I going to work? The money they would pay me was not going to meet my needs,” he said. “My mother in Orlando sent me $100 a month, and with that I was set.”
Incidentally $100 a month is amount permitted to be sent to Cuba each month after President Bush enacted “draconian” changes to U.S. policy on remittances to the island in 2004.
Last week Barack Obama addressed the Cuban American National Foundation saying he would remove those restrictions because, “It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.”
Well here’s at least some anecdotal evidence that such an outcome does nothing to create incentives for change in Cuba, in fact, it perpetuates the status quo. In Cuba the state is supposed to take care of the needs of its citizens. Remittances relieve the regime of its self-designated responsibilities.