The Cuba government pays ridiculous and unacceptable low wages and pensions. The consequence of a completely failed political system.
The people are not happy but completely resigned trying to find ways to work around the system. Hoping that they have some family connection to Spain or a family member who has left the country and can now provide some support.
Working for the Cuba government
When we first heard the story of a person who had been to a trade school and then went work for the Cuba government we didn't believe it.
She had trained for some years in hospitality. Only to get employment at the unbelievably low rate of CUC10 (USD10) per month. They were required to work a six-day week for eight hours a day ... to earn less than half a dollar per day.
Cuba government propaganda praises themselves that education up to university is free. And for free hospitalisation.
It is not mentioned that medication outside the hospital has to be purchased from the pharmacy. This is not free and for some people can be very expensive.
We heard from someone else that they had to work two jobs because their state salary was so low. Although university qualified in physics they were now looking to change their career to hospitality. Hospitality appears to be one of the very few areas in which people can earn a reasonable income as here they are partially independent of the state system.
Qualified doctors and teachers working for the Cuba government get paid between 400 and 500 pesos per month. Or about US$16-US$20 per month. It seems impossible that anybody could live on this little money. Especially as many household items are priced in CUC.
We spoke to a woman who worked in a casa particulares who was a qualified teacher. His salary was not enough to support her family so she left to work as a manager in a guesthouse.
Old Age Pensions
We were told that an old age pension in Cuba is 295 pesos, or just under US$12 per month. Not enough to survive on many old people are driven on to the streets begging. The ones that do survive depend on family to supplement their income and provide a place for them to live.
We spoke to a man who manages a restaurant. He starts work at about nine o'clock in the morning preparing for the opening at ten o'clock. He then works until the midnight closing time when he has to close up shop. For his over 15-hour day he gets paid CUC3 (or 3 US dollars) a day. He is expected to support a family with three children with this.
Pesos and Convertible Pesos
There is a fixed rate of 25 pesos per convertible peso or CUC.
So why exactly does the Cuba government have two completely separate financial systems. Pesos for the lives of the local people. Convertible pesos for foreigners and the pricing of many items in shops. The only logic that I can find. It sounds far more impressive for the government to say people earn 400 to 500 pesos per month than to say they earn the paltry sum of $16-$20.
People here also cut off from the real world. Concepts like Amazon and Uber sound like science fiction. App based payment systems, digital payment systems common throughout Africa are beyond comprehension.
- The Cuba government is holding the country back. It needs leaders with vision, it needs privatisation, it needs to relax the maniacal control of all resources.
- What was good for Cuba 60 years ago, is not what's good for Cuba today!
- If change doesn't come soon this country will get further behind the rest of the world. With the people continuing to suffer the consequences.