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Convertible Peso

… “will mark a change” in Cuban politics, according to Janette Habel … currency system (which uses the Cuban peso and the convertible peso … declaring his support for modernising Cuba. “Today, with the development of … Facebook account – a rarity among Cuban politicians. In 2013, he also … Continue reading
… “will mark a change” in Cuban politics, according to Janette Habel … currency system (which uses the Cuban peso and the convertible peso … declaring his support for modernising Cuba. “Today, with the development of … Facebook account – a rarity among Cuban politicians. In 2013, he also … Continue reading
… “will mark a change” in Cuban politics, according to Janette Habel … currency system (which uses the Cuban peso and the convertible peso … declaring his support for modernising Cuba. “Today, with the development of … Facebook account – a rarity among Cuban politicians. In 2013, he also … Continue reading
… to finish his degree at Havana University, but his mind is … change in style and raise Cubans’ expectations of their government. It … , stunts productivity growth and keeps Cubans poor. The convertible peso (CUC … a measure of legitimacy. But Cuba’s increasingly disenchanted people care … Continue reading
14ymedio, Yimit Ramiriz, Madrid, 28 March 2018 — I wish I had more time to write a shorter letter. I met José Martí at almost the same time as I met my parents. In the reading book, before mastering the whole alphabet, they talked about him and there were isolated fragments of his writings. Later I … Continue reading "“I Like That Crazy Marti, The Friend, Not The Saint”" Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 27 March 2018 — The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will maintain the “leading role in Cuban society” and socialism will remain “irrevocable” after the Constitution reform, now underway on the island, is concluded this week by the 5th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the only political organization allowed … Continue reading "Cuba’s Constitution Reform Will Keep Communist Party As “Leader” Of Society" Continue reading
… people. Its capital city of Havana has a population of 2 … . The currency of Cuba is the Cuban peso or the Cuban convertible peso … the Cuban peso for most of their expenses, while the Cuban convertible peso can be used for luxury items. Cuba’s … Continue reading
EFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 24 February 2018 — Cuban Vice President Marino Murillo acknowledged on Friday that the implementation of the economic reforms undertaken under President Raúl Castro’s presidency of the island has generated “more errors than virtues” and said that there is a “distance” between the initial objectives and the reforms in practice. Murillo, known … Continue reading "Marino Murillo Recognizes "More Errors Than Virtues" in Applying the Reforms" Continue reading
In street-level exchanges, despite a surtax on dollar sales, the U.S. dollar rose immediately against the convertible peso (CUC) — which will be replaced by the Cuban peso (CUP) — closing in on a 1:1 rate Continue reading
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 17 February 2018 — “I do not accept CUC,” the driver of the shared taxi warns passengers at Havana’s Fraternity Park. It is the third time that day that Lídice, 40, has heard the same phrase. The first time was from a peanut seller and then from a barber. Both refused … Continue reading "“We Don’t Accept Payment In CUC Here”" Continue reading
… a two-tier class system in Cuba, which favored those with access … , has offered to assist the Havana government with the delicate move … a Cuban peso (top) and a Cuban convertible peso (bottom) in Havana Adalberto … , but many economists believe that Havana will not have enough foreign … Continue reading
14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camaguey, 7 February 2018 — The city of Camagüey is experiencing an intense digital transformation thanks to independent wireless networks that connect thousands of users throughout the country. It is a complex framework that carries the Wi-Fi signal from the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) to all neighborhoods and also eliminates censorship. In this … Continue reading "Uncensored Internet in Camaguey Thanks to Alternative Networks" Continue reading
Dimas Castellanos, 22 January 2018 — The reform measures implemented in Cuba in 2008 failed: voluntarism, statism, centralized planning, and subordination to policy and ideology dashed them. The coexistence of two currencies confirms this. In 2011 monetary unification formed part of the Guidelines approved at the Communist Party’s 6th Congress. In 2013 a timeline was announced to implement it, and there was … Continue reading "Dual Currencies: Before 1959 and Today / Dimas Castellano" Continue reading
Zunilda Mata, Havana, 22 January 2018 — Cuba is intending to buy Peru’s surplus potatoes, if and when they meet the the phytosanitary requirements for export. Peru’s Minister of Agriculture, José Arista, reported on the efforts made by the Cuban embassy in Lima during a meeting with local producers last Wednesday, which was reported in the newspaper La República on … Continue reading "Cuba Looks to Peru to Solve Potato Shortage" Continue reading
Ed. Note: This article talks about Cuba’s two currencies, the Cuban peso and the Cuban convertible peso, and the potential ‘unification’ of the two currencies. The Cuban peso is also called “national money” and by the acronym “CUP.” The Cuban convertible peso (“CUC”) only came into use in 1994. It is not convertible outside the … Continue reading "The Dollar Strengthens In Cuba In Anticipation Of Currency Unification / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 6 January 2018 —  The fear of a sudden monetary unification, which would eliminate the dual currency system in Cuba, and its possible effects on the foreign exchange market is contributing to the rise in the price of the dollar in informal networks in Havana. In the last two weeks, the US currency … Continue reading "US Dollar Rises in Value Against CUC in Informal Market" Continue reading
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 27 December 2017 — An essential feature of the Cuban socio-political and economic system is the reluctance of the ruling class to offer exact and reliable figures and data about the performance of the economy and finances at the end of each year. December is, for Cubans living in Cuba – … Continue reading "The Cabalistic Exercises of the Managers of the Cuban Economy" Continue reading
EFE / via 14ymedio, Havana, 21 December 2017 — The president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, confirmed on Thursday that he will leave office on April 21, after the Cuban Parliament extended his current mandate until that date, a mandate which was due to end on February 24. “When the National Assembly is constituted I will … Continue reading "Raul Castro Confirms He Will Leave the Presidency and Urges Elimination of Dual Currency" Continue reading
… without complications in Cuba. Cuba uses two currencies — the Cuban convertible peso, known … ;When you change dollars in Cuba, the Cuban government levies a penalty … a good airport experience in Havana, although his experience may be … ," Kelly said. At the Havana airport, "we were given … Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 7 December 2017 — Ernesto Machado will never forget a cold morning in 1968 at José Martí airport in Havana. A migration officer removed her parents’ gold wedding rings while annulling her passport. “This is the property of the revolutionary government,” the woman dressed as a soldier told her, before she left Cuba to … Continue reading "Cuban Customs Can’t Keep Up With Cuban Ingenuity" Continue reading
14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camagüey, 8 December 2017 — The first online financial transactions have been delayed for two decades in Cuba. The new service, called Kiosco, allows the payment of electricity and telephone bills, in addition to the repayment of bank loans, but is not exempt from technological setbacks and has not yet managed to gain the … Continue reading "Online Payments Come to Cuba Two Decades Late" Continue reading
Iván García, 20 November 2017 — While Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the oldest dictator in the world at age 93, was giving a televised statement from Harare, surrounded by soldiers and elegantly-dressed officials, many miles away from Zimbabwe, Edna, a history professor at a pre-university, was washing clothes in Havana, in an anachronistic Aurika from the … Continue reading "The Crisis in Zimbabwe is Barely Mentioned in the Cuban Media / Iván García" Continue reading
Raúl Castro has not taken advantage of the steps taken by Barack Obama and has chosen to opt for caution rather than reform 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 13 November 2017 — It was too quiet to last. The diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States has failed and both nations are resetting their watches to … Continue reading "In Cuba, the Cold War Returns" Continue reading
Primavera Digital, Eduardo Martínez Rodríguez El Cerro, Havana, 5 September 2017 — We list here the most pressing problems faced by average Cubans: 1-A greatly reduced ration book of subsidized foods. High prices in the markets. Very little on offer in the stores. Relatively cheap goods of horrendous quality. In an island surrounded by water … Continue reading "Cuba’s Most Pressing Problems / Eduardo Martinez" Continue reading
… to Havana.) Until revised regulations are official, U.S. (including Cuban-born) and … currency in Cuba, the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) and the CUP (Cuban Peso … inoculations before visiting Cuba. Cuba requires guests to pay a Cuba Health Insurance … Continue reading
Iván García, 30 August 2017 — Since his wife died two years ago, Manuel hasn’t been eating properly. At night, he sits in front of an obsolete cathode ray tube television, and usually watches the news or the baseball while he drinks some fourth-rate rum bought from a convenience store. His big old house with high … Continue reading "Cuban Universities Need Autonomy / Iván García" Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 24 August 2017 – Currently, Cubans and foreigners residing in Cuba are permitted to pay customs duty on imported products in Cuban pesos only once per year. Subsequent import duties must be paid in Cuba’s other currency, the Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which is worth 25 times the Cuban peso (CUP). … Continue reading "Cuban “Collaborators” on Foreign Missions Will Pay Customs Duties in Cuban Pesos" Continue reading
Tourism Boom Chokes Havana's Airport

14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 4 July 2017 — The passengers leave the
plane and make their way around the buckets catching the leaks from the
roof. They still have a long wait in at baggage claim and have to suffer
under the air conditioning that hardly alleviates the heat. The José
Martí International Airport in Havana is stumbling through
the tourist boom that has brought a volume of passengers its services
and infrastructure find difficult to serve.

The main air terminal in the country received 3.3 million passengers in
the first half of this year, a figure that increased by 27.4% compared
to the same period of the previous year. However, travelers' experiences
are far from satisfactory.

There are few places to eat and the lack is supplies is a problem. "We
only have these two cafeterias up here," says one of the
employees. "Today we did not get any beer and there is no water, we are
only selling coffee in addition to bread with ham and cheese," she told
several customers on Monday.

There is an unfinished wing on the exterior that will be filled with
places to eat. "The financing of this infrastructure was linked to the
construction company Odebrecht and everything was paralyzed by the
corruption scandal in Brazil," says a source from the Ministry of
Construction who preferred to remain anonymous.

"We hope it will be open before the end of the year as an alternative
for travelers and their friends," the official said. "But the building
is one thing and the supply of food and beverages is another; the latter
is the responsibility Cuban Airports and Aeronautical Services Company
(ECASA)."

We can't do magic. If there is no beer in the country, where are we
going to get it from?" an ECASA employee asks rhetorically, speaking to
this newspaper by phone from the central office. "We have tried to meet
the demand with imported products, but the tourists want to drink a
Cuban beer at the airport," she says.

Hope arrived for the terminal employees when it was announced last
August that French companies Bouygues and Paris Airports had won a
concession to expand and manage the terminal.

"They haven't pounded a single nail here," protests the saleswoman at a
handicrafts stand on the middle floor. Industry sources say that no
feasibility studies have yet been done to start the works. "The French
planners have not even arrived to evaluate the terminal," says a senior
Transport Ministry official adding that the project is waiting for
support from the new French president.

One floor down crowd those waiting for the travelers who arrive in the
country. "This shows a lack of respect," says Manuel Delgado, 58, who
complains that "there is no place to sit, the heat is unbearable and the
cafeteria has no water" while waiting for the Air France flight
returning his daughter, who has been living in Paris.

The bathrooms earn the worst of the opinions of those who wait. "They
smell bad and although the service is free, the employees are asking for
money, in a somewhat disguised way, but they ask for it," says Yesenia,
who came from Matanzas to meet a brother returning from Mexico.

In the women's restroom a female worker holds the roll of paper for
drying hands. "It's not mandatory, but they look askance at you if you
do not give them something," says Yesenia. One of the female employees
asked the customers to exchange for 25 centavo coins in Cuban pesos
(CUP) "for a convertible peso." Finally, a European-looking tourist agrees.

A few meters from the bathroom, located on the third floor, a young man
tries to catch the wifi signal to surf the internet, a service only
offered in the area after immigration and security controls. For every
hour of navigation one must pay 1.50 in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC)
but there is nowhere in the airport "today where they are selling
recharge cards for the Nauta service," he says frustrated.

There are also no hotels nearby for passengers in transit to other
provinces. For two years the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) has planned to
build five-star accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the airport,
but the project has not yet materialized. The private sector, however,
has taken the lead from the state and more and more private houses are
renting to tourists in the vicinity of the area.

The problems of infrastructure and services do not end after approaching
the exit doors from the flights. "I was traveling in first class and
they gave me an invitation for the VIP area," says José Mario, a Cuban
who each month takes the Copa Airlines route to Panama working as a "mule."

Numerous trips allow you to accumulate points that you can take
advantage of, from time to time, to travel in more comfort. But the VIP
area has not met their expectations. "They told me I had to wait for
other customers to finish eating, because there were not enough dishes,"
he remembers with annoyance after his failed attempt serve himself some
nuts and cheese from the available buffet.

Jose Mario admits, at least, that the taxi service has improved. More
than a year ago a fixed rate was established from the airport to
different points of the city. "Before the driver decided the price, but
now I know that I must pay 25 CUC from here to my house, not a peso more."

The experience on arrival, on the other hand, does not get much
praise. It varies according to the schedule, the flight and the amount
of luggage. "Sometimes I have spent less than an hour waiting for my
bags, but other times I have spent up to four in front of the luggage
belt," complains the traveler.

Employees agree that the waiting time after the landing fluctuates. "At
night, when large flights arrive from Europe, such as Iberia, Air France
or Aeroflot everything slows down," says one of the doctors waiting for
the national passengers to fill out an epidemiological form.

The pilots themselves have had to explain to the passengers about
departure delays because of not having "enough vehicles to bring the
luggage to the plane".

Added to this is the strict customs control over luggage, whose
thoroughness is not only designed to prevent crime but to control the
bringing of technological devices into the country (such as DVDs,
NanoSations, hard disks or laptops) or large quantities of commonly used
products. The most "meticulously" checked flights are those from the US,
Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other regular
routes for the "mules."

In the area before passing through immigration, employees are wandering
around with posters bearing the names of some travelers. Some approach
families with children or newcomers who look like Cubans living
abroad. "For 40 dollars I can pass you without problems from customs,"
whispers a worker to a couple with two children.

For a certain fee employees can avoid passing through the search or
paying for excess imported luggage, a relief for many Cubans living
abroad and arriving loaded with gifts. For each kilo of luggage that
exceeds the limit of 50 kilos, there is a fee that must be paid in CUC,
and the fees also depend on the type of objects transported. For
residents on the island is also very advantageous, since they can only
pay in CUP for their first annual importing of goods.

Jose Mario often resorts to this illegal service. "What I am going to
do?" he justifies himself. "I pay to get myself out of this airport as
soon as possible, because it's unbearable between the heat and the bad
conditions."

Source: Tourism Boom Chokes Havana's Airport – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/tourism-boom-chokes-havanas-airport/ Continue reading
… it sailed American tourists to Havana, Cuba, the first time a ship … . Sign saying “Until forever commander” Cubans who follow Santeria believe their … , the government held its first Cuban Communist Party Congress where leaders … exchanges. Visitors only use the Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which has … Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 4 July 2017 – Cuba’s dual currency system has been in existence for such a long time that many young people never lived under a system with a single national peso. The rumors of possible unification of the two currencies are no longer listened to and people appear resigned to continuing … Continue reading "Cuban Convertible Peso Can’t Keep Up With The Dollar" Continue reading
Average Monthly Salary in Cuba is $29.60 US

EFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 30 June 2017 – The average monthly salary in
Cuba in 260 was 740 Cuban pesos (CUP), the equivalent of $29.60 in US
dollars, although the figure is higher in sectors such as the sugar
industry – where the best paid earn 1,246 CUP ($48.80 US), and falls in
public administration, defense and social security, with a figure a 510
(CUP) ($20.40 US).

The figures come from the publication "Figures for Average Salaries in
2016," released on Thursday by Cuba's National Office of Statistics and
Information, which includes average monthly salaries by province since
2007, and average monthly salary by economic activity type since 2014.

According to the report, the average salary in Cuban increased from 408
CUP ($16.30 US) in 2007 to 740 CUP in 2016.

By province, the highest salaries are earned in Ciego de Ávila (816 CUP
/ $32.60 US), Villa Clara (808 CUP / $32.30 US) and Matanzas (806 CUP /
$32.20 US), while the lowest wages are paid in Guantánamo (633 CUP /
$25.30 US), Isla de la Juventud (655 CUP / $26.20 US) and Santiago de
Cuba (657 CUP / $26.20 US).

The highest paid sectors on the island are the sugar industry (1,246 CUP
/ $49.80 US), mining and quarrying (1,218 CUP / $48.70 US), financial
services (1,032 CUP / $41.20 US), and agriculture, livestock, forestry
and fisheries (991 CUP / $39.60 US).

On the other hand, economic activities with lower wages are: "Other
communal services, associations and personal activities," (503 CUP /
$20.10 US); public administration, defense and social security (510 CUP
/ $20.40 US); Culture and sport (511 CUP / $20.40 US); and education
(533 CUP / $21.32 US).

The low wages paid to state employees in Cuba, compared to the high cost
of basic products—Cuba imports 80% of its food—are constantly subject to
criticism by international organizations and also by opposition movements.

Health and education are universal and free in Cuba, and citizens
receive some basic food from the state through the "ration book."

But the rationing system, which decades ago covered much of the
population's needs—including underwear, shoes and children's toys—has
been reducing the quantities and types of subsidized products.

The rationing system, which decades ago covered much of the population's
needs, has been reducing the quantities and type of subsidized products

Currently, an adult Cuban receives monthly from the ration stores about
7 pounds of rice, 4 pounds of sugar, one pint of soybean oil, one packet
of mixed coffee (that is coffee mixed with fillers such as dried peas),
one packet of pasta, five eggs and small quantities of chicken. Children
also get one quart of milk a day until they turn seven.

In 2011, Cuban President Raul Castro approved the authorization of new
categories of self-employment (the term used in Cuba means "own
account-ism") as one of the key measures to compensate for the
progressive reduction of 500,000 jobs in the state sector.

Another of the main distortions in the Cuban economy is the simultaneous
circulation of two currencies—the Cuban pesos or "national money" and
the Cuban convertible peso, or "hard currency"—that the Government
recognizes needs to be changed, but for the system remains in force and
there is no firm date to merge the currencies.

Source: Average Monthly Salary in Cuba is $29.60 US – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/average-monthly-salary-in-cuba-is-29-60-us/ Continue reading
EFE, via 14ymedio, Havana, 30 June 2017 – The average monthly salary in Cuba in 260 was 740 Cuban pesos (CUP), the equivalent of $29.60 in US dollars, although the figure is higher in sectors such as the sugar industry – where the best paid earn 1,246 CUP ($48.80 US), and falls in public administration, … Continue reading "Average Monthly Salary in Cuba is $29.60 US" Continue reading
… home to Cuba’s oldest church, a food market with Cuban staples … sunbathed to the strains of Cuban music with a rum punch … Legendarios del Guajirito show by Havana’s Buena Vista Social Club … : Cuba has two currencies – the convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso … Continue reading
14ymedio, Havana, 17 May 2017 — In the midst of the morning hustle and bustle, residents of Havana are trying to reach their destinations on time, a challenge because of the inefficient public transport and the sky high prices charged by the private operators of fixed-route shared-ride taxi services. On Monday a new service, “Rutero taxis,” … Continue reading "A Taxi Cooperative Proposes To Lower Private Transport Prices" Continue reading
Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different
MAY 15, 2017 BY MONIKA DONIMIRSKA

COLLEGE PARK, Md., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cuba is
experiencing a brain drain, though it's not the kind that forecasters
were predicting when the long-closed country began opening its borders.
It's internal brain drain, says Rebecca Bellinger, managing director of
the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business Office of
Global Initiatives and Center for International Business Education and
Research.

The small island nation's doctors and other highly skilled workers
aren't emigrating for more lucrative jobs in Miami and elsewhere. In
fact, they aren't emigrating at all. They're staying in Cuba, but moving
toward the burgeoning hospitality sector.

And it's posing a major new threat to Cuba, Bellinger says. „Cubans are
deciding that they'll have a higher quality of life if they enter the
travel and service industry."

To be sure, some highly skilled Cubans – doctors, lawyers, professors
and others – are leaving the country in search of opportunity. But many
more who are staying in Cuba are opting to leave their jobs because of
low state salaries or are taking on second jobs, becoming taxi drivers,
waiters and bellhops – jobs involving regular interaction with foreign
visitors and their hard currency. The government is experiencing a sort
of „drain" as well, as state workers flee their jobs for the more
lucrative private sector.

„These are people who are leaving the jobs for which they have been
trained," Bellinger says. „Last year, we met an English teacher who left
his rural school position to become a tour guide, both to use the
language he had learned and to gain access to hard currency."

Cuba's universities have long been regarded as the best in Latin
America, but in recent years, gross enrollment has been plummeting,
sparking additional worries.

The country maintains two forms of legal tender: the Cuban peso (CUP)
and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S.
dollar, and is many times more valuable than the CUP. Neither trades on
the global forex market. Most Cubans are paid in the weaker peso (CUP),
limiting their buying power. Visitors to the country use the CUC and
leave tips, and that's helping to fuel Cuba's internal brain drain.

Bellinger has been traveling to Cuba since 2010, studying what's
happening there as she forges experiential learning opportunities for
students and collaborative partnerships with the University of Havana
and its associated research centers. As part of her work with NAFSA, the
Association of International Educators, she has worked with the Office
of Foreign Assets Control, a Treasury Department unit that manages
sanctions, to educate the higher education community in the U.S. on
regulations that govern legal travel to Cuba. She also leads the CIBER
Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) Program to Cuba for
faculty from across the U.S.

She has seen an uneven upturn in travel, steep in Havana, but shallow
everywhere else.

„Last year, we were told by a hotel manager that Havana has 100 percent
capacity in hotels all year long," she says. The capital city is so full
of foreign travelers today that it's scarcely recognizable from even a
year ago.

Travel to Cuba's secondary cities, meanwhile, has been generally missing
the boom. That's in large part because U.S. travelers have faced highly
restrictive travel conditions in the past and may not be aware of what
the island has to offer outside of Havana.

To be approved for travel to Cuba, Americans must have an itinerary that
aligns with one of 12 approved purposes, which include religious
activities, journalism, humanitarian projects and people-to-people
outreach. „And tourism is not one of them. This is not a destination
that U.S. citizens can just explore for sun and sand," Bellinger says.
That has kept most U.S. travelers in Havana for now, but gradually that
will change, Bellinger says, as U.S. relations with Cuba continue to evolve.

As Cuba looks to its future, Bellinger says, it must focus on these
eight things.

Support economic reforms: This has already begun, Bellinger notes, but
much work remains. The economic reforms announced in 2010 have
encouraged development and job creation in the non-state sector, which
has eased the financial burden on the state. Over 500,000 Cubans are now
self-employed in their own microenterprises and private cooperatives,
but the regulations that govern these businesses are still constraining.
For example, private restaurants are able to have only 50 seats, and
private companies are not permitted to import any goods or foodstuff to
support their business.

Address the dual currency issue: Rebuild the country around a single
currency, to level the playing field for Cubans and increase consumer
confidence.

Address salary issue: Traditionally esteemed, high-skilled work should
be appropriately compensated, to counter brain drain tendencies in the
country.

Invest in innovative capacity: „Because of Cuba's history," Bellinger
says, „it does not lack the ability to innovate. Just think about the
old jalopies." Closed off from much global trade, Cubans have long found
ways to maintain and retrofit 50-year-old automobiles. „That type of
innovation exists," she says, „but so do impressive global innovations
in health, biomedical and pharmaceutical fields.

Ease access to information: Access to the internet has increased in
Cuba, with about 2,000 homes in Havana authorized to receive the
internet directly and with the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing
virtually every day. „It is fantastic," Bellinger says, „that the
government is no longer afraid of giving people access to information."
The country should encourage the democratization of the internet,
allowing greater accessibility at a fair and level price, she adds. In
most countries, internet prices are determined based on the amount of
data used. In Cuba, users are charged based on the types of websites
visited, with domestic websites costing less than foreign ones. Some
foreign websites are still blocked in Cuba.

Educate a generation of business leaders: For a half-century beginning
around 1960, the economy was generally controlled by the Cuban
government. Now, the country faces a crisis in business education: Who
will educate the next generation of business leaders, job creators and
entrepreneurs? The reforms that have allowed for the creation of private
business have not been supported with education, meaning that the
individuals starting and running small businesses do not have access to
the formal training they need to be successful. The Catholic Church has
begun a program that's similar to a masters of business program, and a
Miami-based nonprofit is doing some startup business training on what
Bellinger describes as „a very small scale." But education remains an
area where Cuba prohibits joint ventures with foreign entities, so
prospects for business education remain murky.

Improve transportation and infrastructure: Cuba has infrastructure
problems, „first and foremost," Bellinger says, making travel cumbersome
between Havana and the country's secondary cities. Addressing those
problem would spread economic development across the island.

Choose democracy: Elections are planned for 2018, when Cuban President
Raul Castro plans to step down. „But if there's going to be an election,
is it going to be fair? Who will be the key players? We don't know,"
Bellinger says. „It's as important as ever that Cuba listen to its
citizens."

Central to her suggestions is the notion of investing in human capital.
„At the end of the day," Bellinger says, „if you don't invest in human
capital – if you don't invest in your workforce – nothing is going to
change in Cuba."

Visit Smith Brain Trust for related content
at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust and
follow on Twitter @SmithBrainTrust.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized
leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and
schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School
offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online
MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as
outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its
degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North
America and Asia.

Contact: Greg Muraski at 301-892-0973 or gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu

Source: Why Cuba's Brain Drain Looks Different | satPRnews -
http://www.satprnews.com/2017/05/15/why-cubas-brain-drain-looks-different/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 20 April 2017 — The transport ministry (MITRANS) has issued a new provision that obligates Havana’s pedicab drivers to have visible identification that specifies the municipality where they can operate. The sticker carries the driver’s license number and the name of the municipality. An official calling herself Tamara explained to 14ymedio that MITRANS inspectors … Continue reading "Pedicab Drivers Can Only Work Where They Live" Continue reading
What the tourist industry reveals about Cuba
The revolutionary economy is neither efficient nor fun
Apr 1st 2017 | HAVANA

TOURISTS whizz along the Malecón, Havana's grand seaside boulevard, in
bright-red open-topped 1950s cars. Their selfie sticks wobble as they
try to film themselves. They move fast, for there are no traffic jams.
Cars are costly in Cuba ($50,000 for a low-range Chinese import) and
most people are poor (a typical state employee makes $25 a month). So
hardly anyone can afford wheels, except the tourists who hire them. And
there are far fewer tourists than there ought to be.

Few places are as naturally alluring as Cuba. The island is bathed in
sunlight and lapped by warm blue waters. The people are friendly; the
rum is light and crisp; the music is a delicious blend of African and
Latin rhythms. And the biggest pool of free-spending holidaymakers in
the western hemisphere is just a hop away. As Lucky Luciano, an American
gangster, observed in 1946, "The water was just as pretty as the Bay of
Naples, but it was only 90 miles from the United States."

There is just one problem today: Cuba is a communist dictatorship in a
time warp. For some, that lends it a rebellious allure. They talk of
seeing old Havana before its charm is "spoiled" by visible signs of
prosperity, such as Nike and Starbucks. But for other tourists, Cuba's
revolutionary economy is a drag. The big hotels, majority-owned by the
state and often managed by companies controlled by the army, charge
five-star prices for mediocre service. Showers are unreliable. Wi-Fi is
atrocious. Lifts and rooms are ill-maintained.

Despite this, the number of visitors from the United States has jumped
since Barack Obama restored diplomatic ties in 2015. So many airlines
started flying to Havana that supply outstripped demand; this year some
have cut back. Overall, arrivals have soared since the 1990s, when Fidel
Castro, faced with the loss of subsidies from the Soviet Union, decided
to spruce up some beach resorts for foreigners (see chart). But Cuba
still earns less than half as many tourist dollars as the Dominican
Republic, a similar-sized but less famous tropical neighbour.


With better policies, Cuba could attract three times as many tourists by
2030, estimates the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. That would
generate $10bn a year in foreign exchange, twice as much as the island
earns now from merchandise exports. Given its colossal budget deficit,
expected to hit 12% of GDP this year, that would come in handy. Whether
it will happen depends on two embargoes: the one the United States
imposes on Cuba and the one the Castro regime (now under Fidel's
brother, Raúl) imposes on its own people.

The United States embargo is a nuisance. American credit cards don't
work in Cuba, and Americans are not technically allowed to visit the
island as tourists. (They have to pretend they are going for a family
visit or a "people-to-people exchange".) Mr Obama allowed American hotel
chains to dip a toe into Cuba; one, Starwood, has signed an agreement to
manage three state-owned properties.

Pearl of the Antilles, meet swine

But investment in new rooms has been slow. Cuba is cash-strapped, and
foreign hotel bosses are reluctant to risk big bucks because they have
no idea whether Donald Trump will try to tighten the embargo, lift it or
do nothing. On the one hand, he is a protectionist, so few Cubans are
optimistic about his intentions. On the other, pre-revolutionary Havana
was a playground where American casino moguls hobnobbed with celebrities
in raunchy nightclubs. Making Cuba glitzy again might appeal to the
former casino mogul in the White House.

The other embargo is the many ways in which the Cuban state shackles
entrepreneurs. The owner of a small private hotel complains of an
inspector who told him to cut his sign in half because it was too big.
He can't get good furniture and fixtures in Cuba, and is not allowed to
import them because imports are a state monopoly. So he makes creative
use of rules that allow families who say they are returning from abroad
to repatriate their personal effects (he has a lot of expat friends).
"We try to fly low under the radar, and make money without making
noise," he sighs.

Cubans with spare cash (typically those who have relatives in Miami or
do business with tourists) are rushing to revamp rooms and rent them
out. But no one is allowed to own more than two properties, so ambitious
hoteliers register extra ones in the names of relatives. This works only
if there is trust. "One of my places is in my sister-in-law's name,"
says a speculator. "I'm worried about that one."

Taxes are confiscatory. Turnover above $2,000 a year is taxed at 50%,
with only some expenses deductible. A beer sold at a 100% markup
therefore yields no profit. Almost no one can afford to follow the
letter of the law. For many entrepreneurs, "the effective tax burden is
very much a function of the veracity of their reporting of revenues,"
observes Brookings, tactfully.

The currency system is, to use a technical term, bonkers. One American
dollar is worth one convertible peso (CUC), which is worth 24 ordinary
pesos (CUP). But in transactions involving the government, the two kinds
of peso are often valued equally. Government accounts are therefore
nonsensical. A few officials with access to ultra-cheap hard currency
make a killing. Inefficient state firms appear to be profitable when
they are not. Local workers are stiffed. Foreign firms pay an employment
agency, in CUC, for the services of Cuban staff. Those workers are then
paid in CUP at one to one. That is, the agency and the government take
95% of their wages. Fortunately, tourists tip in cash.

The government says it wants to promote small private businesses. The
number of Cubans registered as self-employed has jumped from 144,000 in
2009 to 535,000 in 2016. Legally, all must fit into one of 201 official
categories. Doctors and lawyers who offer private services do so
illegally, just like hustlers selling black-market lobsters or potatoes.
The largest private venture is also illicit (but tolerated): an
estimated 40,000 people copy and distribute flash drives containing El
Paquete, a weekly collection of films, television shows, software
updates and video games pirated from the outside world. Others operate
in a grey zone. One entrepreneur says she has a licence as a messenger
but wants to deliver vegetables ordered online. "Is that legal?" she
asks. "I don't know."
Cubans doubt that there will be any big reforms before February 2018,
when Raúl Castro, who is 86, is expected to hand over power to Miguel
Díaz-Canel, his much younger vice-president. Mr Díaz-Canel is said to
favour better internet access and a bit more openness. But the kind of
economic reform that Cuba needs would hurt a lot of people, both the
powerful and ordinary folk. Suddenly scrapping the artificial exchange
rate, for example, would make 60-70% of state-owned firms go bust,
destroying 2m jobs, estimates Juan Triana, an economist. Politically,
that is almost impossible. Yet without accurate price signals, Cuba
cannot allocate resources efficiently. And unless the country reduces
the obstacles to private investment in hotels, services and supply
chains, it will struggle to provide tourists with the value for money
that will keep them coming back. Unlike Cubans, they have a lot of choices.

Source: Sun, sand and socialism: What the tourist industry reveals about
Cuba | The Economist -
http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21719812-revolutionary-economy-neither-efficient-nor-fun-what-tourist-industry-reveals-about Continue reading
The First Tangible Labor Strike / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 21 February 2017 — New bureaucratic regulations governing
the routes of shared fixed-route taxis have led to the first tangible
labor strike by drivers. Of course, strikes have gone on for many years
in our country due to the poverty-level wages paid to workers in the
bureaucratic and service sectors. As the old saying goes, "the
government pretends to pay us and we pretend to work."

The best known example of the current strike involves boteros
(literally "boatmen" — the taxi drivers of cars from the 1940s and
1950s). After bureaucrats set the prices for certain short trips at 5.00
Cuban pesos, the so-called national currency, drivers refused to pick up
short-haul passengers.

After paying a high fee to the government for a license to operate, it
is not profitable for a driver to charge 5.00 Cuban pesos when 0.25 CUC*
(roughly the same in the other currency) does not even cover the high
cost of fuel. Furthermore, anytime a car brakes, there is wear and tear
on the tires and battery. And whenever a car door opens to let a
customer get in or out, more fuel is consumed. Consider that a tire in
this country costs approximately 160.00 CUC, about the same the price as
a battery, not to mention that spark plugs go for almost 3.00 CUC apiece.

Boteros are helping to solve the serious problem of urban transport in
this country. These new regulations have led to an increase in the
number of bus riders, which has in turn led to a deterioration in public
transportation.

Why do these same bureaucrats, who say they have adopted these
regulations to protect the pocketbooks of average citizens, not work to
reduce to extremely high cost of food priced in the national currency
and especially in the convertible currency? Obviously, the state
guarantees them an auto, gasoline and spare parts, so they are not
directly and personally affected by the needs and problems that the
Cuban population faces.

In short, the botero is not forcing you to be his customer. It is the
state which is forcing you by not attending to or solving, after so many
years, the big transportation problems in our country.

Translator's note: Cuban convertible peso, equivalent to about 6.63
Cuban pesos.

Source: The First Tangible Labor Strike / Rebeca Monzo – Translating
Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/the-first-tangible-labor-strike-rebeca-monzo/ Continue reading
Rebeca Monzo, 21 February 2017 — New bureaucratic regulations governing the routes of shared fixed-route taxis have led to the first tangible labor strike by drivers. Of course, strikes have gone on for many years in our country due to the poverty-level wages paid to workers in the bureaucratic and service sectors. As the old saying … Continue reading "The First Tangible Labor Strike / Rebeca Monzo" Continue reading
Local Producers Missing From Pinar Del Rio Wine Shop / 14ymedio, Ricardo
Fernandez

14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 17 February 2017 – The Pinar
del Rio Casa de los Vinos (House of Wines) got off on a bad foot the day
of its inauguration. The opening ceremony, held on Tuesday, had to be
delayed for several hours as the construction work had not been
completed and customers were scarce.

Those most missed were the local producers, who were the initial
promoters of this initiative – along with the urban agriculture workers
– and who planned a place where customers could taste and buy artisanal
wines. The idea, which failed for lack of state support, was taken over
by the state-owned Internal Trade Company, but without the presence of
the private winemakers.

On the island, despite the climate and the limited access to raw
materials, an increasing number of producers are making artisanal wines,
from the fermentation of fruits such as guava, orange, papaya,
pineapple, soursop and mango.

The new place in Pinar del Rio, situated at No. 8 Gerardo Medina Street,
seeks to enhance the inventiveness of winemaking and has capacity for 26
customers. "We prioritize the local production of artisan wines," the
manager, Julio Corrales Banos, told the official press.

On the opening day, however, only the industrial wines made in the
province were on offer because of the lack of an agreement with the
area's producers. The absence of a legal framework that allows the state
to contract directly for the products of these entrepreneurs is limiting
local activity.

Artemisa and Mayabeque are currently the only provinces that have
greater flexibility in contracts with the private sector. Raúl Castro's
government has given autonomy to the Administration Councils of the
provincial Assemblies of People's Power to experiment with another type
of management.

For winemakers from Pinar del Rio, being able to count on something like
this would mean a considerable jump in profits due to the increase in
demand that has been noticed in the region in recent years.

For the moment, the sale of privately managed wines is carried out from
doorways and informal stands on the busiest streets of the city. Some
thirty producers sell wine, the majority of which are of excellent
quality, despite not meeting the international standards for the
inclusion of sugar in the fruit fermentation process.

The wines that are produced in the Island have high degrees of Brix, a
unit of measurement of the sugars present in a drink, and are usually
sweet or semi-sweet, with a low volume of alcohol.

Ernesto Reinoso, 81 years old, produces 26 Vinos de Rey in a traditional
way. "If the objective was to create a space where the people of Pinar
del Rio can consume wines, they would have to look at the prices,
because the wines we sell are very cheap, 1 Cuban convertible peso
(roughly $1 US) a bottle," he says about the new place.

At the head of the first stage of the Casa de los Vinos was Julio del
Llano, a retired winemaker regrets that no private producer was invited
to the opening. Del Llano, the third generation of winemakers in his
family, is a promoter of quality among producers and was the first in
the territory to register his brand.

"We winemakers will have to continue marketing through self-employed
workers, as we have done until today," concludes Del Llano, who has won
multiple awards in national quality contests.

In February of last year, in the 25th Artisan Wine Festival, celebrated
at the Agricultural Fair of Rancho Boyeros (Havana), a contest was held
in eight categories: white, rosé, red, sparkling, dry, semi-dry, sweet
and semi-sweet. Luis Bermúdez Rodríguez won the grand prize with a
sample of semi-sweet wine made from pineapple and banana, 2013, with
12.8 degrees of Brix.

Source: Local Producers Missing From Pinar Del Rio Wine Shop / 14ymedio,
Ricardo Fernandez – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/local-producers-missing-from-pinar-del-rio-wine-shop-14ymedio-ricardo-fernandez/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez, Pinar del Rio, 17 February 2017 – The Pinar del Rio Casa de los Vinos (House of Wines) got off on a bad foot the day of its inauguration. The opening ceremony, held on Tuesday, had to be delayed for several hours as the construction work had not been completed and customers were … Continue reading "Local Producers Missing From Pinar Del Rio Wine Shop / 14ymedio, Ricardo Fernandez" Continue reading
Black Gold / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 6 February 2017 — In a dark corner
along the national highway, with no lights to identify it, the
connoisseurs of the secret enter an unpaved road. A few minutes earlier
they had called from their cell phone asking if there were any ripe
papayas. They park in the middle of a banana grove and open the fuel cap.

In the middle of nowhere, a barefoot, shirtless man carries a plastic
jerrycan and with the help of a funnel fills the gas tank of an
unlicensed taxi, that runs between Cienfuegos and Havana. It all happens
in silence, barely uttering a word.

The scene repeats at different points along Cuba's roads. These "gas
stations" are not announced in the yellow pages of the phone book, nor
do they appear on the on-line ad site, Revolico. They are the
clandestine suppliers of fuel that comes from the state warehouses,
especially those dedicated to agricultural uses.

A liter of gas, which in an official establishment costs 1 Cuban
convertible peso (roughly $1 US), here has a price of 15 Cuban pesos
(CUP), some 40% less. The cheapest that can be found is 12 CUP, and,
very exceptionally and only between friends, 10 CUP. Gone are the times
when a liter could be had for 8. The rise in prices was due to a drastic
reduction in the quotas the state delivers to farms and cooperatives
after Venezuela reduced the supply of hydrocarbons it sends to the island.

The rise in prices was due to a drastic reduction in the quotas the
state delivers to farms and cooperatives after Venezuela reduced the
supply of hydrocarbons it sends to the island.

The so-called black gold has the power in this country to become even
darker in the "irregular" market. In official events they have declared
that there are municipalities where, for months, the state gas stations
have not sold a single liter of fuel, even though private vehicles
continue to circulate without serious problems.

In the middle of last year, the authorities imposed price caps for
private transport in the capital and other areas of the city, but the
drivers have found several tricks to evade the restrictions. A good part
of them circulate with fuel bought in the informal market. If they had
to buy their fuel at the state gas stations their fares would go through
the room and be unaffordable to the passengers, but an invisible hand is
in charge of getting around the government's measures.

Source: Black Gold / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez – Translating Cuba -
http://translatingcuba.com/52068-2/ Continue reading
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 6 February 2017 — In a dark corner along the national highway, with no lights to identify it, the connoisseurs of the secret enter an unpaved road. A few minutes earlier they had called from their cell phone asking if there were any ripe papayas. They park in the middle of a banana grove … Continue reading "" Continue reading
Cordoba Park: Internet, History and Business / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 27 January 2017 — As soon as the sun warms this frigid
tropical autumn, Cordoba Park, located at San Miguel, Revolucion,
Lagueruela and Gelanert, in the Havana neighborhood of La Vibora,
resembles a picnic and leisure area.

Young people sit on the lawn and some families spread large towels as if
they were at a pool or on the shore. Others bring folding chairs or
armchairs so that the elderly, through the IMO application, can converse
comfortably with their relatives across the Straits of Florida.

Also the hustlers arrive, the ones that survive from what falls off the
back of the trucks, with a special nose to detect when, in certain
environments, theycan make money. This is the case of Ricardo, who on
the side of the park's main gazebo, blows up a red and blue inflatable
and charges five Cuban pesos (about 20 cents US) per child.

"It's only for children under ten or whose weight is less than sixty
pounds," he tells a heavy girl who wants to jump on the inflatable with
two friends. But they insist and Ricardo tells them that the inflatable
"is not made for young people or adults. And I have to take care of it,
because it supports me, it's how I feed my children. You will have to
entertain yourselves with something else."

In Córdoba Park, more than 1,300 feet across, there is one of the two
Wi-Fi zones in the municipality of 10 de Octubre, which are a part of
the 34 open zones in Havana and the 200 operating throughout the Island.
Since the Wi-Fi zone opened, on March 30, 2016, the place has become an
open air locutorium, where we learn about the lives and miracles of people.

But those who come daily, to connect to the Internet, do not know that
the park was located in front of the house of Emilia de Cordoba y Rubio,
born on 28 November 1853 in San Nicolás de Bari, the first woman
mambisa (independence fighter), who had an extraordinary desire to serve
Cuba.

When Emilia de Cordoba died, on 20 January 1920, neighbors and friends,
including journalist and the patriot Juan Gualberto Gómez (1854-1933),
asked that her memory be perpetuated. In addition to putting her surname
to the park, on 20 May 1928, a marble statue by the Italian sculptor
Ettore Salvatori was unveiled, considered the first monument in the
capital of the Republic dedicated to a Cuban woman.

A young woman talking in Portuguese with a Brazilian friend knows
nothing of this history as she shamelessly asks for "a hundred or two
hundred dollars, or whatever you can, because we are at the gates of the
end of the year and I'm broke, without a single cent."

Nor does the family that is trying to crowd around the screen of a
Smartphone, to see their relatives in Hialeah and ask them about hourly
wages or rents in Miami, know who Emilia de Cordoba was, though they
know what kind of car their family bought and whether or not they
already bought the iPhone 7 they asked them for.

"Mi'jo, this place is a mess. After the death of you-know-who things
look ugly. Look, see if when you get yourself settled you can send us
more money and start working on getting us out of this shit," asks the
older woman.

It is common to see women and men kissing their lovers or wives by
sticking their mouths on the screen of the tablet or cell phone. A
slender mixed-race woman, who wears shorts that show more than they
hide, runs the phone up and down her body with no timidity and, smiling,
tells her presumed partner, "So you can see a sample."

In a corner of the park, the one that borders Gelabert Street, a group
of boys, at full volume, have mounted their particular recital of
reggaeton, with two portable speakers that work through the Bluetooth of
their phones.

Music is a good pretext for attracting customers. "Hey old man,
Connectify a caña (one convertible peso or twenty five Cuban
pesos)". They promote the application that makes the internet connection
cheap, but slows the speed in an unbearable way.

Others lurk around the park, and in a low voice they proclaim, "Wow,
your card, three bars." It is one of the most common businesses in
public places with wifi. "The business is simple. You buy the internet
cards in an ETECSA center at two chavitos (CUC) and then resell them for
three. For each card I sell I earn 1 CUC. In one day I can earn 20 or 30
fulas (another slang term for CUCs)," confesses a kinky-haired white guy
wearing a shirt with Luis Suarez, a forward for Barcelona.

On Monday, December 12, the good news was the announcement of an
agreement between the multinational Google and ETECSA, the inefficient
state telecommunications company, to improve the Internet connectivity
of Cubans. According to Deborah, the company's engineer, "this does not
mean that the transmission speed will improve dramatically, but those
using Google will have a noticeable improvement, like from the sky to
the moon."

Since 4 June 2013, when ETECSA opened the first 118 internet rooms
throughout the country, and despite the high cost (one hour costs the
equivalent of two days of salary of a professional), today about 250,000
people access the information highway in different provinces, either
from an internet room or a Wi-Fi zone, every day.

Although most are not exactly searching for information. "Some 80
percent of those who connect use the Internet as a communications tool
or to access social networks," says an ETECSA engineer who works in a
network traffic office.

For three and a half years now, the Internet has been an event in
Cuba. You can use it to ask for money, find lovers or make friends. And
those who want to inform themselves can do so on uncensored national or
international sites. But as for websites considered
"counterrevolutionary" by the regime, they cannot be accessed from the
Greater Antilles. This is the case with Diario de Cuba, Cubanet,
Cubaencuentro and Martí Noticias, among others.

Connecting to the internet on the Island has become all the rage. It is
synonymous with modernity. Or a weekend getaway with the wife and
children to a park with wireless connection, to talk with family and
friends in Miami or Madrid.

It is the closest thing to what happened three decades ago, when people
in their free time stood in long lines at Coppelia to have an ice cream,
or walked along La Rampa or sat down to converse or to take in the fresh
air along the wall of the Malecon.

Source: Cordoba Park: Internet, History and Business / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -
https://translatingcuba.com/cordoba-park-internet-history-and-business-ivn-garca/ Continue reading
Ivan Garcia, 27 January 2017 — As soon as the sun warms this frigid tropical autumn, Cordoba Park, located at San Miguel, Revolucion, Lagueruela and Gelanert, in the Havana neighborhood of La Vibora, resembles a picnic and leisure area. Young people sit on the lawn and some families spread large towels as if they were at … Continue reading "Cordoba Park: Internet, History and Business / Iván García" Continue reading