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Posted April 07, 2010 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Speculation has it that the Ministry of Sugar (MINAZ) will be closed in the near future and be replaced by a centrally controlled, state run corporation according to sources talking with Reuters.

The sugar industry was a big source of revenue for Cuba until 1992. This is the most severe reorganization since the industry was drastically downsized in 2002.

The Ministry of Sugar is the body responsible for directing, implementing and monitoring sugar cane cultivation and the processing of sugar cane and its derivatives.

Plans to create the new sugar corporation and revitalize the industry by allowing foreign investment and the closing inefficient sugar mills are nearing final approval by President Raul Castro.

Cuba used to produce 8 million tons of raw sugar a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union but now accounts for less than 5% of foreign exchange earnings. In 1992 Cuba shut down and dismantled 71 of 156 mills, all 71 built well before the revolution, and relegated 60 percent of sugar plantation land to other uses. More mills have closed since then, with just 44 mills open this season. Another 20 have been maintained in working condition for future use.

Near term output is expected to be only 1.2 million tons.

A source close to the industry said “in the medium-term they hope to increase production to 2.8 million tonnes using fewer mills”.

“Yields per hectare are currently around 3 tonnes per hectare and the goal is to bring them up to at least 6 tonnes,” he added.

The international standard is 8 tons per hectare.

Similar corporations to the one planned for sugar operate with foreign partners in nickel (Cubaniquel) and oil and gas (Cubapetroleo) under the Ministry of Basic Industry.

“The new structure will give decision makers in the industry more autonomy and allow them to keep a percentage of revenues for re-investment,” a Cuban economist said, asking like the others that his name not be used.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 08, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    Clearly a most desperate and needed transition from failed state controlled communist industry to business minded/efficiency/profit driven industry, but unfortunately still state controlled, well that’s no surprise.
    A step in the right direction, but is it still bare foot manual labor, or will Raul beg China for free machinery?


  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 08, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    The funny thing is that at one point they had so much machinery that it was rotting unused on the storing yards. Thousands of tons of those machineries that were never used were later sold as scrap.
    The system is so corrupt and incompetent that I have no faith in any new change they can do. Castro has been able to DESTROY the sugar cane industry in Cuba. From being one of the first world exporters to import sugar in 50 years. Amazing.


  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 08, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    Perhaps we should coin a new phrase;

    THE CASTRO TOUCH, everything he touches turns to S_ _ T

    As opposed to the Midas touch…...


  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 08, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    It will be interesting to see what foreign companies agree to invest on Cuba’s terms for joint venture.  This will not be the most attractive opportunity due to risk of dealing with Castro govt which can change terms of the deal overnight, plus the uncertainty of whether current govt will be in power in 5-10 years.  They will need a quick payback and I don’t see that coming in an industry that needs rebuilding & investment in equipment.  Which means Raul will have to give alot away up-front.  Unless the foreign company can set labor terms (i.e. wages & incentive pay for productivity) I doubt anyone can turn the industry around… the problems are too systemic & embedded in the Cuban economy.  If it does change you’ll have another class of workers (sugar farmers) who earn 5-10x more than the doctors, professors and government workers in Havana… similar to the taxi drivers and hotel workers who get tips from tourists.  How will Havana keep doctors from quitting their $25/month salary and going to the sugar cane fields or driving a cab???  As Raul tries to tweak the system, broader changes will be unleashed - the status quo is unsustainable (except by force as Fidel has shown thru the years).  I’m also waiting to hear Fidel’s comments about this change to the Sugar Ministry in his next “reflections”......


  5. Follow up post #5 added on April 08, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    Perhaps the Fanjul family should return and rebuild the sugar business which Castro stole from them. They created and succeeded very well with ‘Florida Crystals’ and aquiring and improving ‘Dominoes Sugar’ based in the Dom. Rep.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on April 08, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    No! They are capitalist pigs who enslave the poor and treat their workers like trash in the name of greed and exploitation!  We will only allow enslavement and exploitation to be done by those who are on the side of Castro & the Revolution!


  7. Follow up post #7 added on April 09, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    The tug-of-war would start when foreign corporations decide they want to invest in Cuba on their own terms so they can riddle Cuba with foreign debt and convert the island into another Dominican Republic, or Guatemala, etc.  I think what Cuba was doing by guaranteeing a profit for ten years (and then ownership reverts to Cuba) is not a bad deal as long as they honor the agreement.  I think Cubans (the new generation) would know better than to borrow from the IMF at rates that will keep them indebted forever.


  8. Follow up post #8 added on April 09, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    It will be an interesting business model and tension between govt & foreign investors to keep them motivated for long-term versus just making quick profit-driven decisions (to maximize their profits during 10 year window).  How effectively will Cuban govt (mis)manage the industry when it reverts back i n10 years? Hopefully by then there will be new class of business leaders in Cuba who can make this a success or it will again be struck by the “Castro Touch”....


  9. Follow up post #9 added on April 09, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    More than an interesting business model, I think it’s one which the rest of the world should follow.  Everyone benefits.  The underdeveloped country benefits, and the foreign entrepreneur also benefits in that they’re not taking the risk which normally comes with any business venture. It also ensures that no nation can control the economy of another nation. With respect to Cuba, they should use Cuban employees who learn the ins and outs of the business so they can continue managing it after the 10-year lapse, maybe as a quasi government/employee co-op, etc.


  10. Follow up post #10 added on April 09, 2010 by Gringo Cubano with 42 total posts

    It will require a different kind of foreign investor… need to get the companies with expertise and demonstrate the high returns they can get in short-term.  Big question will be who pays for all the up-front investment (i.e. new equipment, etc.).  Can Cuban govt afford to do it, and if not, the foreign co. will not like the risk/return due to high up-front investment.  I get what you’re saying, but question of what industries will be willing to play if they can go to other countries and buy/own land, facilities, etc. and have long-term gains (10, 20, 30 years).  At a certain point the foreign investor is making some moves for long-term strategy and the returns a mature business brings, not a guaranteed return in short-term (might as well buy an annuity, bonds, or other “paper” where you get a return w/o doing any work!)


  11. Follow up post #11 added on May 02, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    There is one positive thing that I saw in the reduction of the sugar cane plantations, the replanting of a lot of it with vegatables, plantains, some rice yuca, malanga, lemons, oranges,corn etc. and even yucaliptus trees that I am told are going to be used for hard wood as well as oil for fragrances for disoderant etc. The bananas are not full grown yet neither are the trees but Cuba needs to diversify it’s crops to cut down it’s imports. Being a one crop economy is no good for any country. A lot of the refineries were ancient and not very efficient. If they can find investors, they will modernize the industry and not require as much man power. Maybee they will plant beet roots that will produce more sugar and be easier to mechanize the havest. Cuba has had an extended period of droubt this year and they are building some big resevours to try to not be so dependant on rain all the time for irrigation.


  12. Follow up post #12 added on May 02, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Sounds like a good plan. Thanks for the update.



    Cuba consulting services

  13. Follow up post #13 added on May 02, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    #11
    The reduction of sugar cane plantations is a result of the total neglect under the Castro regime.

    The planting of ‘a lot of vegatables, plantains, some rice yuca, malanga, lemons, oranges,corn etc. and even yucaliptus trees’ never took place because of the neglect under the Castro regime.

    ‘A lot of the refineries were ancient and not very efficient’ because of the neglect and lack of investmet in infrastructure under the Castro regime.

    The demise of everyday, simple services such as running water, electricity and sewage has collapsed under the Castro regime.

    Homes, schools hospitals, universities, roads and railways have all crumbled to dust under the Castro regime.

    Rationing of basic food requirements for the Cuban people is still in place after fifty years under the Castro regime.

    Simple and basic human rights have all been brutally removed under the Castro regime.

    Ownership of property, business, freedom of speech/press have been violently removed under of the Castro regime.

    The Castro regime is supported and financed by donations of capital/industrial machinery and free loans from sympathetic and deluded despot dictators of the similar socialist loser states who believe the communist ideal is still king.


  14. Follow up post #14 added on May 02, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    jmw1, The refineries were pretty much all built with US machinery, The U.S. wouldn’t sell them any spare parts to carry out repairs. They had to haywire the machines to keep them running. They were built when manual labour was used instead not with more machinery as we would use today.
    If you think Cuba had running water and sewers everywhere before, you are mistaken. There was no electricity in the countryside, not like there is today. Cuba has built many schools, hospitals, clinics etc. were none existed before. The roads have improved compared to my last visit. There is enough food for everyone contrary to what you think you know. Many vendors in the street. Most food is relatively cheep. Just one example:- eggs per libretta 10 per person per month, 5 at 0.15mn (0.006cuc) the next five are 0.90mn each (0.36cuc). Extra rice bought in the open farmers market is 5.00mn per lb. (0.20cuc) A good teacher makes $652.00mn/mo. A sound tech I met working for a radio station makes about $1600.00mn a month. I have lots of data on food costs as I wrote everything down. People buy and sell cars and houses etc. all the time even though some people here tell you they can’t. People own there own houses as I have seen their papers. The people that I would say suffer the most hardship are the ones living in the small towns far from a city. They don’t have access to all the luxery items, variety of food, transportation etc as people say in Santiago,Holguin or La Habana.


  15. Follow up post #15 added on May 02, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter what do you consider luxury?


  16. Follow up post #16 added on May 02, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Why would you leave such a paradise?

    There’s perception and then there’s reality. Make sure you know which one you are seeing.



    Cuba consulting services

  17. Follow up post #17 added on May 03, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, I would call luxury items things like chandiliers, Nestles ice cream confections, Copelia ice cream, perfumes, canned foreign bear, packaged confections, candies, curtains, frozen meat etc that are all available in bigger towns.
    Pub, I agree that perception is not always reality but I spent most of my month living with family in a small town of 2500 people, talking to family and friends who were not afraid to say what they think.
    “why would you leave such a paradise”, Pub such a superficial remark, we’re talking about a 3rd world country here, we were brought up in countries that can’t be compared to the 3rd world.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on May 03, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Why the change in tone? Before your trip Cuba was utopia and the US was evil.

    Also, Cuba wasn’t a third world country before Castro. His regime continues to strangle the country.

    The topic of this article is a great example of that. Castro screwed up sugar production in Cuba. SUGAR!

    Oh wait, that’s the fault of the US, I forgot.



    Cuba consulting services

  19. Follow up post #19 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Publisher,
    Do you think that perhaps the bombing of sugar mills in Cuba could have something to do with impairing sugar production?  Don’t underestimate the damage that the exiles, backed by U.S. money and guerilla training, have done to Cuba (and are still doing).


  20. Follow up post #20 added on May 03, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Please post a link to information about the US bombing Cuban sugar mills.

    When did it happen? How many times?

    Really amazing that you can’t even blame this on Fidel. Amazing.



    Cuba consulting services

  21. Follow up post #21 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Just google it, Publisher.  There ought to be plenty of links, along with information on all sorts of sabotage against Cuba, maybe not every single day but enough to keep them in a constant state of recovery.  All of it was done, of course, not only to bring down the regime but also to undermine the people’s efforts at reconstruction, etc.  Honestly, how many countries around the world have survived over 50 years of aggression?  I think that rather than criticizing Cuba for its shortcomings, we should be applauding their accomplishments.


  22. Follow up post #22 added on May 03, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Pub, I havn’t changed my mind about Cuba after my trip, it only gave me a better picture of what is the reality in Cuba today, this counters much of the negative information we are fed here in North America about Cuba,  read some history on Cuba, Cuba was not a nice place to live for the huge majority in Cuba before 1959.


  23. Follow up post #23 added on May 03, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Certainly some sugar mills were bombed, I feel that were two. That was over 40 years ago and the damages were repaired. The collapse of the sugar industry in a country that was at one point the first world exported of sugar have nothing to do with two bombs but with a huge debacle that is the inability of the Castro government to lead the prosperity of his own people. The problem is not the embargo, or the collapse of the Soviet Union or too much rain or no sufficient rain or hurricanes or earthquakes, the problem is one: Castro. He has no idea of what Economy means. He changed bad ministers of Economy for others that were worst. The Cuban Economy was leaded for over 20 years by a pediatrician. I guess that’s why they produced lots of doctors but not so much food.
    A good example of Castro’s accomplishments is that in Cuba today (as explained by our friend Pipefitter) luxury items include: Nestles and Copelia ice cream, perfumes, canned foreign bear, packaged confections, candies, curtains, frozen meat etc. Looks like Cuba is on the right track!!!
    By the way some people have a rough time before 1959 but Cuba was a good place to live and prosper before the revolution. Your idea of “huge majority” is certainly in line with Castro brainwashing and propaganda but far from reality.


  24. Follow up post #24 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Yeyo, I highly doubt that things are so “cut and dry” as you make them out to be.  It’s easy to say that Castro is the only problem, while forgetting the recurring hodgepodge of attacks against Cuba and its people throughout decades.  All I can say is this:  Take 3 or 4 of your paychecks, tear them up, and then see how long it takes you to recover without falling back on payments and losing your credit entirely.


  25. Follow up post #25 added on May 03, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    MiamiCuban I know what you mean but again you are wrong. I have tear not 3 or 4 but hundreds of paycheques while living in Cuba. Do you realize what is to live on USD 20 a month?
    Recovering? Falling back? Catching up is and inventing daily is what Cubans do daily to put something on their tables. Your everyday food is a luxury that very few Cubans if any can afford. 
    I started my life from scratch when I immigrated because the Cuban government would not allow me to sell my house or my car (my only two pseudo properties, pseudo because even though they were on my name I could not sell them freely) they confiscated all. In my former house there is a General living now.


  26. Follow up post #26 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Yeyo, I’m sorry your house got confiscated.  I’m not at all for anyone’s home being taken away. 

    On another note….is there really a difference between your not being allowed to sell your home in Cuba, and someone else in a capitalist country who ends up NEVER being able to sell his home because the value “magically” dropped below its “worth?”  In one case, a General benefits…in the other case, the banks do.  Also, you say they have to “invent daily” to put something on their tables; yet, at the end of the day Cubans do eat and they eat a lot better than many do in Latin American “democracies.”  Tell me something horrible about Cuba that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.


  27. Follow up post #27 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Correction to post#26….I meant:  “...the value magically dropped below what is owed to the bank.”


  28. Follow up post #28 added on May 03, 2010 by jmw1 with 62 total posts

    #26
    You statements clearly show your ignorance and failure to understand the difference between a communist dictator’s outright confiscation of private property and a capitalist homeowner experiencing difficulty in selling their property in times of economic duress.
    The former is without choice or rights when their property is stolen by force, the latter is free to seek empoyment with better pay, take up part time employment (2nd job) start their own business, take in house lodgers, or simply sit tight and lower their expenditures.


  29. Follow up post #29 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Does it really matter who pulls the plug?  In the end, the result is the same:  you still lose your house.  And,yes, there are band-aid solutions to the inherent problems, just like the ones you stated above—for those on both sides of the fence.


  30. Follow up post #30 added on May 03, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    “Tell me something horrible about Cuba that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world”
    1.  There is no freedom of speech.
    2.  There is no freedom to leave the country and travel and/or emigrate whether you can or want.
    3.  There is no freedom to buy and/or sell property (houses included).
    4.  There is no freedom to work independently and/or self employment.
    5.  There is no freedom to create you own company and/or business except restaurants, barbershops etc with tons of restrictions.
    6.  There is no freedom to buy a new car even if you have the money and/or sell it once you buy it.

    I can probably go on and on but only want to mention few for your easy reference.


  31. Follow up post #31 added on May 03, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    And this is exclusive to Cuba, right?


  32. Follow up post #32 added on May 03, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    No, you can enjoy it also in North Korea.


  33. Follow up post #33 added on May 03, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, you are wrong on most of your items above.
    #1- You are right in the fact that you would be foolish to stand on a corner and critisize the gov. or you can’t take out an add in a paper etc to do so but you also know that people critisize things the gov. does all the time.
    #2- I have had 4 members of my wifes family visit us in Canada and return to Cuba with no problem at all.
    #3-A member of our family in Cuba just bought a house outside La Habana and is selling one in Mayari.
    #4-Two members of our family in Cuba work for themselves and make a pretty fair wage.
    #5- See #4
    #6- You are right you can’t buy a “new” car in Cuba, but until recently some could buy a used car even from the Gov. as I know 2 that did. people in Cuba buy and sell used cars amongst themselves even though there may be a law against it. I also know one that had a used car bought by a friend inside Canada and had it shipped to Cuba.


  34. Follow up post #34 added on May 05, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter this is general information about the reality in Cuba:
    1.  There is no freedom of speech in Cuba. Either because you would be foolish or dumb the fact is that you cannot speak freely and that is lack of freedom of speech.
    2.  You can have hundreds members of your family or otherwise traveling to Canada but the fact is that there are thousands and thousands of Cubans with visas for different countries and which are not allowed by the Cuban Government to leave Cuba. In addition to that Cubans have to obtain an exit visas from their own government to visit any country.
    3.  The member of your family that just bought the house outside of Havana and is selling one in Mayari is doing it illegally, plain and simple. In Cuba sale and purchase of houses is prohibited by the law.
    4.  Statistics show that over 97% of the population in Cuba work for the government. There are some jobs that are allowed (ie. Barbershops, small farmers, small restaurants). However if you want to work independently you are not allowed.
    5.  In Cuba if you want to open a business you cannot do so. Even worst. The investment law says that anyone can invest money in Cuba except the Cubans. Now talk about apartheid.
    6.  Cubans cannot buy new cars. And contrary to what you say if you buy a car from the government you cannot sell it except back to the government at government fixed price.


  35. Follow up post #35 added on May 05, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, the only people that I know that have been refused visas are the ones trying to visit family in the U.S. and were refused by the U.S. interest section who of course kept the $250.00 U.S. required to apply. One retired person I know has been refused 3 times. The buying and selling of houses is done legally by using some loopholes available. You are quite wrong about 97% working for the gov. What the Cubans do is get a foreigner to apply to open a buisiness and share the profits. There are thousands of Cubans who have small buisinesses in Cuba they don’t apply to the gov. for pernission to do so. I know of some Cubans who have thousands of dollars on deposit in foreign banks. People buy vehicles and leave them in the original owners name.


  36. Follow up post #36 added on May 05, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter,
    As I said earlier if you are Cuban you lived in a Cuba different than the one I spent a good part of my life until recently.  If your information comes from your wife’s family is incomplete and completely inaccurate and if it comes from your visits to Cuba, obviously you are not going deep enough and as I have said many times it is very difficult to learn the real Cuba by only visiting few weeks or even moths at a time.
    There are thousands of peoples in Cuba that cannot leave Cuba even after having visas for different countries and obviously many already having US visas. Whether US, Canada or another countries refuse entry visas, they certainly do but that is not what I was talking about. I was talking about the fact that Cuba is among the few countries in the world (I believe that North Korea is the other) that require and exit visas (white card) for their citizens. That itself contravene the UN chart of human rights.
    The buying and selling of houses in Cuba is illegal, period. It is prohibited by the law and every house bought and/or sold using what you called “loopholes” is also illegal and risk being confiscated by the government. Every year thousands of people lose their homes for that reason. That is one of the jobs of the Housing Institute and believe me they are good at it.  Unscrupulous people try to make money of the great housing needs and they portray the so called “ loopholes” as legal but they are not. I know friends and family that had lost their houses because of that.  Don’t get me wrong I feel your family have every right in the world to buy and sell their house is just that it is not legal in Cuba.
    What you mentioned about Cubans asking foreigners to apply to open a business in Cuba and sharing the proceeds, it is the reality as I have friends that have done so but at the same time, that simple example shows the apartheid that Cubans have within their own country. Cubans are second class citizens in Cuba. A Cuban cannot open a business by himself but instead have to pay a foreigner to open it on his name and them have the Cuban showing as employee. Is that fair to you?


  37. Follow up post #37 added on May 06, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    Yeyo, you say that, “Statistics show that over 97% of the population in Cuba work for the government. There are some jobs that are allowed (ie. Barbershops, small farmers, small restaurants). However if you want to work independently you are not allowed.”  Just for comparison purposes, I’d like to juxtapose that thought with what would be the equivalent in a capitalist country, where most of the population works, not for the government, but for private enterprise.  Yes, you can try to branch off and work independently (you certainly have the “freedom” to do that), like open up a hardware store….but that’s only until WalMart comes into the neighborhood and puts you out of business, as it has done with countless small business owners.  It used to be that most businesses in America were family-owned, but few people nowadays can compete with WalMart or even run successful beauty salons because the corporate chain of Hair Cuttery, for instance, has taken over.  So while in Cuba most people work for the government, in the U.S. most people are owned by the corporations.


  38. Follow up post #38 added on May 06, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, one way you can legaly buy a house in Cuba is to buy it in your son’s or daughters name as I know that this is done. I know a man who has his own truck and does contract hauling for the gov. He always has a big roll of money in his pocket, perfectly legal. I know a farmer that sells his excess vegies in the town market for cash, perfectly legal. I know another that has a buisiness selling a service in the town square, he also always has a big roll of money in his pocket, perfectly legal. In any country you also do what you have to do to make a living. Do you think there is no underground economy in Canada? What about all the Cubans that work outside the country and get wages in dollars, even though they are much less than the going rates would be as the gov. takes their cut they still make good money working for a foreign company, perfectly legal. What about all the people that work for foreign companies in Cuba also?


  39. Follow up post #39 added on May 06, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter,
    Properties cannot be sold or purchased in Cuba! Period.
    People do many things but all illegal. Anything they are doing, putting the house on their son’s name or whatever is simply illegal. They are likely paying lots of bribes to somebody at the housing institute and as such it is illegal the operation and obviously illegal the fact that they are bribing somebody. Even worst as I said earlier many people lose their homes every year when they are discovered.
    Cubans working in missions in other countries are still working for the government as you say are paid a meager salary compared to what a professional normally make in those countries.
    Cubans working for foreign companies actually work for the government and are subcontracted to those companies. I know that they make some money under the table but the point is that this is illegal and they are punished plus lose their jobs when caught.
    You are very lucky to know the very few people in Cuba that have “ big rolls of money” on their pockets. In my case I know some people that have a not that bad live but I also happen to know millions of people that have a terrible subsistence with a salary of less than USD 20.00 per month.
    As I said earlier obviously the country you have visited and the Cuba I know are not the same.


  40. Follow up post #40 added on May 06, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    MiamiCuban (post No. 37)
    In any capitalist country you have to work hard but have a future. Those that have worked hard have enjoyed a very good life.
    Your example of walmart is not entirely accurate, there are hundreds of companies on the malls, some of them selling basically the same stuff that is sold at Walmart. It just offer and demand. You go wherever you want to go to buy your stuff.
    Is about what the customers want, if you want a cheap pair of shoes you can buy it at Walmart, however maybe you want a more exclusive pair of running shoes and you can buy it at the small store at the corner.
    You may be owned by a corporation but my family and I are not and we actually came to this side of the world later than you. We worked hard and now have a small company that allows us to have a wonderful life style.
    You need to spend a year in Cuba but leave the dollars at home, a year in Cuba living like Cubans do and you would learn to appreciate what you have.


  41. Follow up post #41 added on May 06, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, there is nothing ilegal about buying a house in your son’s or daughters name and it is perfectly legal. The one who pays for the house is of no import. Wrong again Yeyo, Cubans working on foreign ships work for the shipping company not the Cuban gov. Sherrit pays part of the wages to Cubans in CUC’s, I know someone working for Sherrit, and the gov. knows about this and they do not get dismissed or thrown in jail as you say. Cubans do not get paid in U.S. dollars so your $20.00 US means nothing to them. Oh yes I forgot, I did drink some of that cheap bear from the pipa, but you are right it isn’t very good. I also bought some Mayabe that was pretty good in bottles for &10;.00mn with mn or (0.40 cuc per bottle) You better start talking to some real Cubans instead of your dissident brother and his friends in La Habana and get the real facts about Cuba. Obviously you have lost touch with the real Cuba.


  42. Follow up post #42 added on May 07, 2010 by MiamiCuban with 87 total posts

    I just wanted to add that, although I don’t know if this is still being done, several years back when I went to Cuba, my cousin’s husband who is a doctor was doing mission work in Bolivia, and the Cuban government paid him additional monies in US dollars, and also gave a monthly stipend, in US dollars, to his wife and children.  I believe it was $50 US dollars for each household member.


  43. Follow up post #43 added on May 07, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter, I agree there is nothing wrong with buying a house for your son or daughter, anywhere in the world, except in Cuba. I feel that you have been misled but the fact again is that purchasing and selling properties in Cuba is strictly prohibited. You can pass to your son’s name your own property, but you cannot buy a property and registered in your son on your own name. People do it but that does not means that is legal, in fact people do many things in Cuba most of which are illegal. The problem is when they are caught and lose everything. The fact and the matter is that Cuba is a militarized country where most common things are illegal.
    Certainly there are certain foreign companies that are paying a small portion of their salary in CUCs. The main portion of the salary is still in Cuban pesos and the employees still work primarily for the Cuban government, under contract to Sherrit and other companies. The amount of people in those jobs is obviously minimal, and because this portion of money is paid in CUCs most Cubans would kill to get one of those jobs. Sherrit is one of the foreign companies that exploits the Cubans based on that.
    Cuban Seamen are also under contract for a government company named Selecmar and this company subcontracts them to the foreign shipping companies. Cuban seamen are paid primarily in Cuban Pesos with a portion of their salary in hard currency of the country where they are working. Again they are not the majority of the Cuban people.  Get your facts strait!
    When I said that average Cubans were paid less than USD 20 (300 to 500 Cuban Pesos a month) per months is obviously as reference because lot of people in this forum does not know what Cuban Pesos means.
    My brother is not in favor of Castro but is no dissident, simply a Cuban that wants to stay in Cuba. I came from Cuba in late January this year and have lots of family and friends in Cuba in all spheres of life and government.  You probably can say that many people that post here have no idea about Cuba but I hardly fit that profile.


  44. Follow up post #44 added on May 07, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, I happen to have knowledge of a Cuban seaman who has over $50,000 dollars in a bank outside of Cuba. This person was paid enough of his salary in dollars outside the country to save that much. His family in Cuba was also paid a wage in Cuba while he was away. As you know when you are aboard a ship you are subordenant to the captain and not to Selecmar. You keep changing your tune all the time, you said before that foreign companies can’t pay any of their employees salary in convertible currency that it was illegal, but in fact there are companies that do so with full knowledge of the government. In fact Yeyo, the Cuban government also pays some of it’s employees part of their salary in cuc’s. The electric power plants for one that I know of because I have family working in one. You see Yeyo, you may have some knowledge of Cuba but you can still learn something about Cuba even if you are a Cuban living in Canada and visit once in awhile.
    My sister in law is a school teacher and makes $652.00mn per month and is writing a 25 page thesis and will get another $80.00mn more when completed. I met a guy cleaning up the streets. He had a cart and a buoy to carry the rubbish. I was told he makes close to $1000.00mn a month because they pay him for his animal and cart also besides his labour.


  45. Follow up post #45 added on May 07, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter,
    Is interesting that you mention that seaman because I expend quite some time working on that industry.
    I do not know that seaman and have no idea how he made the USD 50,000. However I know thousands of seamen that have no job, thousands more that were let go when Cuba sold most of its merchant fleet few years ago. I can assure you that none of them have not 50,000 or 5000 but not even 500, as I say many of them have no job.  You want to check it out go to the Selecmar office in Kholy, Havana, many of them are there looking for a job.
    You should educate yourself on this field, Cuban seamen still living in Cuba, are contracted by Selecmar and Selecmar subcontracts them to the foreign companies. Yes when they are onboard those foreign vessels those seamen are under the command of the vessel Captain but still under contract with Selecmar. That’s where I show you that not all you think you know is entirely accurate. In Cuba nothing works like the rest of the world. Anywhere in the world seamen are under direct contract with the shipping company and/or are contracted using crewing agencies and seamen unions or guilds. Not in Cuba, if you what to be a seaman and live in Cuba you have to get a contract with Selecmar.
    All your examples are about one person you met, my facts are about the majority of the population. Everywhere you would find exceptions to the rule, but the fact an the matter is that the majority of the Cuban people leaves with less than 400 Cuban pesos a month, which is less than USD 20 per month. That may sounds like a lot to you but I can guarantee you that even in Cuba it is extremely difficult to survive on 20 bucks a month.


  46. Follow up post #46 added on May 08, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    In Cuba you can not use your $20.00US a month because it is not a currency used in Cuba except by tourists. You have to use mn or cuc’s. The seaman I know of still has his over $50,000 in a foreign bank today. I know also that there are a number of seamen not employed in their trade now in Cuba because the gov. has let the fleet dwindle to 27 ships and I also know that seamen are contracted to foreign companies through the Cuban agency. I also have a buisiness in Canada that services the maritime industry on the west coast and I have been on many ships some with Cuban crews. You may make general statements but you would have to qualify them as they do not apply to everyone. The only people I know making less than $400.00mn a month are people on pensions or people with meanial jobs like sweeping the floor. People on pension also get some additional help like two relative couples that can eat lunch every day in a factory cafeteria for $60.00mn for the two a month. They also get special extra quotas of meat and fish. In a town of over 2500 people there are over 1200 on this extra special diet. Food is pretty cheap, they have an farmers market once or twice a month and from my observations many Cubans eat way too much. A lot of overweight people.


  47. Follow up post #47 added on May 08, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter as I said earlier most Cubans salaries are around 400 – 500 cuban pesos a month, which is equivalent to around USD 20.00 per month. I mention it on USD because many people reading this forum have no idea of the value of the Cuban peso.  Some Cubans make a little more but lots of Cubans make also less than that per month. Even considering the “huge” amount of 1000 Cuban pesos per month that you mentioned on your post, 1000 pesos are equivalent to USD 40.00, he is doing a little bit better but still struggling.
    There are certainly many Cuban seamen working on foreign ships, but if they are still living in Cuba they are all under contract with Selecmar which is the Cuban crewing company. Many of those seamen visit Canada while working onboard national and foreign ships. I have lots of friends Captains, Chief Engineers and seamen in general, I met many of them during my visit to Cuba in January this year and also some of them have visited me here in Canada.
    The information and opinions I have posted on this forum are pointed to the general conditions of live in Cuba today. Obviously every rule have exceptions but what I found truly misleading and misguided is to give information about one person saving USD 50,000, or another person with “rolls of money”  when most of the Cuban population is struggling and have dire needs. Those very few persons enjoying a much better lifestyle than the rest of the population are clearly NOT a representation of the living conditions of the Cubans today.


  48. Follow up post #48 added on May 09, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, I can see that your brother in La Habana was the smart one in the family and stayed in Cuba. If you want to use U.S. dollars earned as Cuban wages as a basis for discussion, because we don’t want to confuse the readers with pesos as you say, lets see what it costs a family of four to live. A family of four, (mom dad and two kids say)
    -4x 5lbs of rice @ 0.01U.S. /lb= $0.20U.S.
    -4x 2lbs of extra rice @ 0.04U.S./lb = $0.32U.S. (28lbs of rice for $0.52U.S.)/mo
    -water supply to house = 4x 1mn/mo or $0.15U.S./mo
    -eggs 4x5/person =20 @ .15mn/ea or $0.11U.S.
    -additional eggs 4x5/person =20 @ 0.90mn/ea or $0.68U.S. (40 eggs total)
    -pork 15# @ 10.00mn/lb =$150.00mn or $5.66U.S.
    -fish (pargo) 20# @ $8.00mn/lb or $6.03U.S.
    -yuca 30 lbs @10.00mn or $0.38U.S.
    -electricity say $60.00mn/mo or $2.26U.S.
    -10 loaves of bread @ 1.50mn = 15.00mn or $0.57U.S.
    -30 corn on the cob @ 0.35MN/cob = 10.50mn or $0.40U.S.
    -potatoes 5lb @ 10.00mn/lb = 50.00mn or $1.88U.S.
    -bread buns 30 @ 5/0.15mn = 0.90mn or $0.04U.S.

    So far Yeyo we have got a total of $18.68U.S. and a lot of families get lunch supplied at work and also their kids get food at daycare or school. Also most families have more than one wage earner in the house. Also a lot of houses have some bananas,plantanes, yuca, tomates, mangos, limones etc. growing in el patio.


  49. Follow up post #49 added on May 09, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter, this is not about who is smart or dumb but about the reality confronted daily by the Cuban people. If you want to make the conversation personal let me know and I can go that way also.
    Pork is 25 to 30 Cuban pesos per lb equals to USD 1.20 to 1.40 per Lb.
    Electricity depends on consumption; I know people that pay 100 pesos (USD 4) and other more than 2000 pesos per month (USD 80).
    There are breads of several different prices. A very popular subway type of bread (popularly called desmallado) cost 3 pesos each, and a loaf of the same kind of bread cost 6 pesos, there are several more expensive breads.
    You forgot to include the cost of rent or mortgage, which is certainly low but is something. What about repairs to the house, the extremely expensive clothing, gas for the ones that have cars, which by the way, gas is around USD 1/Liter. Repairs to the cars for the ones that have cars, entertainment etc, etc, etc.
    People can have bananas, yucca, tomatoes planted in your backyard in Mayari but not in the heavily populated cities mostly covered with multifamily buildings.
    Regarding the “lots of families getting lunch at work” that was one of the first things that Raul Castro get rid off when he took power.

    Definitely the Cuban people can live comfortably with the equivalent to USD 20 per month…… only in your dreams.


  50. Follow up post #50 added on May 10, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Yeyo, you are wrong on so many things. I bought pork for $10.00mn/lb. or $0.38/lb.  First 100kwh is $9.00 mn or $0.34US a family house of 6 was using about $60.00mn or $2.26U.S.to $70.00mn or $2.64U.S./ mo (2working & 2 on pension, 2 kids)  The most popular and common bread was $1.90mn/loaf or $0.07U.S. Most people own their own houses and don’t pay rent. On repairs to the house, my brother in law just did some major repairs to his house as it had hurricane damage to the roof so they installed a new roof. He had to pay for material from the state, cement, $8.00mn/sack or $0.31U.S., 120 sacks or $37.20 U.S. , bricks $0.30mn/ea or $0.04U.S.. All the labour was supplied by the government at no cost. Most people don’t have cars or drive ones that are owned by the state and don’t pay for gas. They still get lunch at work, $30.00mn/person for a month or $1.13U.S. Was the guy paying 2000 pesos a month for power running a grow- op in his house? It’s like I told you before you have to live in the country Yeyo, mass oportunidad, mass comida mas barrato.


  51. Follow up post #51 added on May 10, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Pipefitter, your examples of prices are from the mountains of Mayari, the prices I posted are from Havana. Most of the Cuban population is concentrated on the cities, so you are talking about a minority that lives in the country side, and even that info is not entirely accurate.
    Obviously I don’t know about your brother in law that got his house repaired for free, but in the City of Havana there are thousands and thousands of houses that are completely deteriorated by the erosion of time, lack of maintenance and hurricanes, many of them are in such shape that has been ordered to evacuate. No such thing like free government repairs there. Like all the Castro propaganda, houses on some important streets like Malecon, had been repaired to show the “successes of the Revolution” to the foreign dignitaries and tourist that travel by those areas. In many cases only the exterior of the house was repaired and the occupants had to repair the interior of the buildings “by their own effort” as is called in Cuba. No such thing like free repairs in the popular Lisa, Marianao, Cerro, 10 de Octubre and other neighborhoods, no many tourists on those areas, only working Cubans.
    Go back to your own earlier posts where you pointed that “people do own cars in Cuba”. Certainly some people have cars, and they do have to pay for gas that cost equal or more than in North America but with the Cuban salaries. Lot of people own their houses but also lot of people are paying rent or mortgages, so next time tell your brother in law to inform you better.
    People that pay more for electricity is mostly because they have something called air conditioner.
    If prices of construction materials are so affordable why Cuba have such a huge problem with housing, which even the Government acknowledges, three generations of the same family living together in two bedroom apartments??? And those are the ones that have a home, if you go to the so called “insalubrious” neighborhoods (as the Castro government call them), you would see lot of people living on shacks made of cardboard, truck tires, and transit signs.


  52. Follow up post #52 added on May 10, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Building material is cheap but there is a big shortage of it. I was not in Pinares of Mayari I was in the Mayari area. I stayed with that brother in law for a week and he told me he could show me the bills and I trust what he said about the pricing. The labour was supplied by a “brigada” from the factory close by because his house had hurricane damage. I was told while there that the gov. will be making more material available and I did see yesterday in Juventude Rebelde that they will be doing so for people that want to repair their own houses. How fast this will happen I have no idea. A sister inlaw living in Mayari is redoing her bathroom right now also buying the material and paying a guy to do the work.  Some people do own cars in Cuba and they do drive them so I am guessing that they get their gas on the black market. While I was in Holguin a street vendor passed the house selling gasoline. I don’t think he was working for the gas station do you? They were repairing some houses in Mayari also and I don’t think they get much tourist traffic there do you? The people living in cardboard shacks in Havana are the ones that have migrated to it from the country and have no place to stay. Do you remember how many shacks there were in the Plaza de la revolution in Batistas time?


  53. Follow up post #53 added on May 11, 2010 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    To much garbage to reply. You should continue reading Juventud Rebelde, its all about the Castro true.
    Dream about it.


  54. Follow up post #54 added on May 11, 2010 by HavanAndrew with 87 total posts

    Yeyo and PipeFitter;
    I would love to one day get the two of you together in Havana and walk through the neighbourhoods with the two of you. Whenever a disagreement between the two of you occurred we could go straight to the people to get an accurate account so the arguing would stop. I realize you both are very compassionate about Cuba and I hope one day you will be friends. Solutions and and answers are usually located somewhere between the two extremes.


  55. Follow up post #55 added on May 12, 2010 by pipefitter with 275 total posts

    Havanandrew, I wasn’t in La Habana this trip the only thing I heard about Habana was that if you have money you can buy almost anything. Yeyo is a compatriot and I don’t see him as my enemy. He says pork costs $25.00 to $30.00mn/ lb but I know what I paid for it and it was $10.00mn/lb. Yes I could have bought it for $30.00mn/lb but my family told me were to get it for $10.00mn. I also bought rum for $25.00mn/ltr. yes you can also pay up to $100.00mn/ltr in a CUC store. Beer you can pay $25.00mn/ a can or you can pay $10.00mn per bottle it depends where you buy it. \
    I only want Cuba to advance to improve things for Cubans and it will do so even if it is very slowly. I am sure that change will come but it will come from pressure from inside Cuba not by anyone outside the country.


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