Infected by price cuts


The price of fuel at gas stations was lowered and on Thursday, December 11, the daily newspaper Granma announced that we would need only half as much money to open a cell phone account.  It’s not often that there is news of prices falling so we are still of two minds about whether this is just a Christmas gift or the beginning of an extensive readjustment of prices.  I had a premonitory and naïve dream that perhaps this wave of price cuts would be extended even to basic products such as milk which, in the convertible peso market, costs the abusive price of 2.40 CUCs for one liter.

My son is already thirteen and from the age of six has not qualified for the quota of rationed milk, and the illegal merchants, with their powdered milk, haven’t knocked on my door once since the hurricanes.  To buy the ‘tetra pack’ in the foreign exchange shops is a sacrifice that only a few can afford and it has the taste of official corruption.  Thus, I would like to recommend to the Ministry of Prices and Finance that they extend these reductions to all commodities with prohibitive prices.  How much would they like to give us a real Christmas surprise so that before December 31, on the wage of a worker, we could pay for a glass of precious milk every morning.

Translator’s note

Cuba has a dual monetary system; wages are paid in Cuban pesos while tourists use convertible pesos (CUCs).  But the systems overlap because many products are available—even to Cubans—only in CUCs.  One CUC equals roughly 20-25 Cuban pesos, or $1.10 US, $1.30 Canadian, or 0.80 euros (plus exchange fees).   The average monthly wage is about 400-500 Cuban pesos, or $15-$20 U.S.   Thus, at 2.40 CUCs, the price of a liter of milk is about 2-3 days’ wages.


  1. My earlier Comentario in the Spanish EL PAIS prompted a response from a Sue Davies, complaining that I hadn’t mentioned the US “blockade” of Cuba. Today (Saturday 20th) the Diario published an edited version of my riposte. Incidentally, Sue also claimed that Cubans were “uneducated” before the revolution when, in fact, at 23%, illiteracy was one of the lowest in the Americas – and at least people could read anything they liked!

  2. AAaaaaaahg! Sent by accident! This is the original letter mentioned above:
    Dear Editor,
    Another analysis by Sue Davies – masterful but for the facts. I failed to mention the US “blockade” of Castro’s Cuba since no such thing has ever existed. The island is entirely free to trade with anyone who can stomach the regime, always supposing the latter can find something to sell. Argentina had few debtors at the time of its 2001 default, but Cuba was in the hole to the tune of around $2 billion, on a total monthly volume of trade of about $50 million. The dereliction of Cuban agriculture, as revealed by Google Earth, is an entirely domestic achievement, largely due to Castro’s 1959 Agrarian Reform Law.
    Far from supporting Batista, the US guaranteed his defeat by cutting off arms supplies in March 1958, and Dwight Eisenhower was one of the first to recognise the new regime the following year. In a letter to a friend in 1957, however, Castro had already declared that his “real war” was with the United States and that he intended to pursue this after the revolution. By the start of 1961, his provocations had left the US no option but to break off diplomatic relations. As for “vengeful” – in the wake of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the British Communist Party Newspaper “Daily Worker” interviewed Guevara and found the Rosario psychopath still fulminating at the Soviet “betrayal” – the refusal to give Castro the codes to launch a nuclear strike against the US. I suggest that the incineration of New York is the kind of thing that can really spoil your day.
    Sincerely, Iain Salisbury, Edgbaston, UK.

  3. It does not care about anything
    Más valen en cualquier tierra
    (Mirad si es harto sagaz)
    Sus escudos en la paz
    Que rodelas en la guerra.
    Pues al natural destierra
    Y hace propio al forastero,
    Poderoso caballero
    Es don Dinero.
    No me sorprende , solo mas de lo mismo

  4. 2 to 3 day’s wages for a liter of milk? That’s incredible!!!! In America, we only pay a portion of 1 hour of wages for a gallon (about 4 liters, I think) of milk! And we consider the current price to be unusually high! There probably is some corruption in Cuba, indeed. Shame on whoever is doing that.

  5. It’s not just corruption… In Cuba they save all the good stuff for the fat cats and the tourists. Staying on a resort you eat beef everyday or shellfish, both of those things are illegal and if you want them for your own home, as a Cuban, you must buy them on the black market and risk jail time. Same with milk. Remember as well that the milk Yoani is talking about is powdered milk…. and she still can’t find any at a decent price.

    On a side note: Please read her last post: Blog Contest: A Virtual Island… I posted a comment and would like all of your inputs on it. Thanks!

  6. December 18, 2008
    Ted Turner’s lies about Cuba
    By Humberto Fontova
    Last week during a FoxNews interview with Bill O’Reilly, Ted Turner, who founded what has become (in their own words) “the world’s largest cable news network “claimed that Fidel Castro’s Stalinist regime has never killed anyone.

    O’REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?

    TURNER: Yes.

    O’REILLY: Now he has murdered people. He’s imprisoned people. There are political prisoners now. He won’t let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?

    TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He’s trained a lot of doctors, and they’ve got one of the best educational systems in the developing world. And you know, he’s still popular with a lot of people down there. ..

    REILLY: But he’s a killer. He’s a killer. He’s a guy who…

    TURNER: But that has never, to my knowledge, that’s never been proven. I mean…

    O’REILLY: He’s executed political prisoners. I mean, he enslaves people who don’t see it the way he sees it. Come on. He runs a dictatorship.

    For the record in 1958 ( year before Castro took over) Cuba had a higher standard of living than Ireland and Austria, almost double Spain and Japan’s per capita income, more doctors and dentists per capita than Britain, and lower infant mortality than France and Germany – the 13th-lowest in the world, in fact. Today, Cuba’s infant-mortality rate – despite the hemisphere’s highest abortion rate, which skews this figure downward – is 43th from the top.

    So, relative to the rest of the world, Cuba’s health care has worsened under Castro, and a nation with a formerly massive influx of European immigrants needs machine guns, water cannons and tiger sharks to keep its people from fleeing, while half-starved Haitians a short 60 miles away turn up their noses at any thought of emigrating to Cuba.

    But let’s get to the heart of the matter. Ted Turner is demonstratively a brilliant businessman. Back in 1997 when CNN craved a Havana Bureau, his sales pitch was not particularly subtle: “Castro is one helluva guy!” he gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech. “You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him.”

    Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. By the way, two years ago that CNN bureau’s longtime reporter, Lucia Newman, jumped over to Al-Jazeera. A “lateral career move,” I think they call this.

    To put it bluntly: Ted Turner is very far from a space-cadet. He cannot possibly believe what he said on the O’Reilly Factor. The Castro regime’s own henchmen have never claimed anything so transparently preposterous-no Communists ever have. Indeed, like Al Qaeda generations later, terror in the form of mass murder (often public) , was always key to the Communist quest and maintenance of power. Communists have always wanted this to be known, as a means to cow opposition.

    “We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable … we will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood! Let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois – more blood, as much as possible.” Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Soviet Cheka in 1918:

    “Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!” Ernesto Guevara from the book that became the Motorcycle Diaries.

    “We stand for organized terror – this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly.” V.I Lenin.

    “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We execute from revolutionary conviction!” Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

    “Executions? Certainly we execute!And we will CONTINUE executing as long as it is necessary! This is a war to the DEATH against the revolution’s enemies!” Che Guevara while addressing the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1964.

    According to the Black Book of Communism, published in Paris, 14,000 men and boys were executed in Cuba by that stage — the equivalent, given the relative populations, of over 3 million executions in the U.S. “VIVA CHE! VIVA FIDEL!” bellowed Jesse Jackson while arm in arm with the agent of that appalling bloodbath (Fidel Castro) at the University of Havana in 1984. Jesse Jackson, by the way, wrote a book condemning capital punishment.

    Please note: all of Guevara’s above quotes are found in the sadist/coward’s (alas, the “acrid odor of gunpowder and blood” never reached Guevara’s nostril from actual combat. It always came from the close-range murder of bound, gagged and blindfolded men) own diaries. Some of these diaries were fashioned into a movie 4 years ago by Robert Redford (The Motorcycle Diaries); Others provided the screenplay for the 4 ½ hour “epic hagiography” (as described by The New York Times) directed by Stephen Soderbergh and starring Benicio Del Toro titled “Che,” and released stateside just last week.

    The above-mentioned directors and producers profess rigid fidelity to Che’s complete diaries. But you will search these movies in utter vain for these dramatic soundbites, much less their much more cinematically dramatic fulfillment.

    When Che Guevara entered the Cuban city of Santa Clara during the anti-Batista skirmishing he promptly ordered the firing squad murder of dozens of Batista “war-criminals.” A “battle” that added up to six casualties on both sides , but which Soderbergh and Del Toro-mindlessly sycophantic to their Castroite sources–depict as a Caribbean Stalingrad/Iwo Jima, somehow produced scores of war criminals on one side! The New York Times, who “reported” on this “battle” as it “raged,” didn’t bother to look into this peculiar numerical discrepancy.

    The Cuban Stalinists televised some of their Santa Clara atrocities for essentially the same reason Al Qaeda televised Nick Berg’s be-heading. Please click here, Mr Turner, for stark proof of what Bill O’Reilly was telling you on his show.

    This valiant man, Col. Cornelio Rojas, refused a blindfold and walked to his execution (murder , actually, Che Guevara didn’t even bother with one of his bogus trials) unescorted. Compare Senor Rojas death to Guevara’s capture–‘Don’t shoot!” whimpered the quaking “guerrilla”. “I’m worth more to you alive than dead!”

    Blanco Rojas, Senor Rojas wife of forty years, died of a heart arttack while watching her husband’s Che-ordered murder on Cuban national TV. Cornelio Rojas 17 year old nephew , Pedro, volunteered for what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. After fighting to his last bullet (and denied more by JFK’s Best and Brightest) the defenseless Pedro was murdered in cold blood by a suddenly blustering and sneering Communist who served until recently as Cuba’s “Minister of tourism,” Osmany Cienfuegos.

  7. An account of what is known for certain about Castro’s slaughter can be found on “Cuba Archive” . A record has been kept of all the named individuals that it has been possible to trace since 1952. As of November 2006, the certain body count stood at: 5,775 firing-squad executions, 1,231 assassinations, 984 deaths in prison plus around 200 “disappeared.” They noted that the final toll to that date was likely to reach 17,000 (Batista scores a total of around 3,000). This is in addition to the 75,000 whom the Miami Coastguard estimated have drowned trying to escape – a death-toll that makes the “anti-fascist” Berlin Wall look like a piece of playground equipment!

  8. “Iain Salisbury dice: 20 Diciembre 2008 a las 11:49

    …. I failed to mention the US “blockade” of Castro’s Cuba since no such thing has ever existed. The island is entirely free to trade with anyone who can stomach the regime, ….”

    Sure, so long as they’re not headquartered in the USA. If the same “non-blockade” had been placed on Canada, we’d be in much worse shape than Cuba up here, given that 80% or more of our trade is with the US, and that we can’t survive at -25C (the current temperature in my attic) without pipelines, heavy machinery, imported food, etc..

    But Canadian politicians have always been ready and willing to grovel at the altars of Wall Street and Washington. So we have a comfortable pseudo-independence, at least until the moment the US needs something of ours faster than our “leaders” can hand it over “legally”.

    Then the US can count on the co-operation of Canadian military and police forces, which are thoroughly conditioned to take orders from Washington.

  9. En relacion con el supuesto ’embargo’… Desde que USA implemento el embargo a Cuba no ha habido restriccion alguna para que el gobierno de Cuba compre todos los alimentos que desee o todas las medicinas que necesite el pueblo cubano. En el supuesto embargo, Cuba puede comprar y ha estado comprando por mucho tiempo todo tipo de alimentos y medicinas. A donde van esos? Los beneficiados por estas compras son solamente los individuos de alta jerarquia y sus familiares, aquellos que pertenecen a la alta alcurnia del Partido Comunista Cubano. Dejen de ser inocentes…El “embargo” existente en Cuba ha sido implementado por los hermanos Castro al pueblo cubano. El mercado americano esta abierto a transacciones comerciales siempre que estas esten bajo el tratado que existe de ayuda al pueblo cubano, a traves de oficinas gubernamentales de ambos paises. Todos los alimentos y medicinas compradas por el gobierno cubano son desviadas a organizaciones estatales, sin que una de ellas llegue al pueblo cubano. El embargo a que se refieren muchos, dentro y fuera de Cuba, es basada erroneamente en una accion manipuladora del gobierno cubano para hacer creer al pueblo que la culpa la tienen los americanos. Si no me creen…vayan a las casas y mansiones de los altos miembros del partido comunista y veran que alli no falta nada, y todo comprado en los Estados Unidos de America. Y el pueblo que recibe? NADA, NOTHING. Asi que dejen de echarle la culpa a los
    LOS AMERICANOS del famoso embargo. Claro que si se levanta el “embargo” va a ver mas alimentos y medicina para el pueblo cubano que tanto lo necesita, pero por favor no le crean a los hermanos Castro que el embargo viene de los Estados Unidos. El embargo viene de ellos hacia el pobre pueblo cubano. En todos los restaurantes para extranjeros se puede comer las deliciosas comidas hechas con productos americanos… En los hoteles todo lo que se consume viene de los Estados Unidos. Todo lo que necesita el pueblo para comer diariamente y todas las medicinas necesarias para todas las enfermedades se encuentran en las manos de los hermanos Castro, las cuales van a Cuba mensualmente desde los Estados Unidos de America, y de otros paises Latinoamericanos y europeos. Comida y medicinas hay para todo el pueblo cubano. Pidanle al gobierno cubano que abra las puertas de los almacenes donde se encuentran estos alimentos y medicinas y veran como el pueblo podra disfrutar de los mismos beneficios que ellos disfrutan. El verdadero comunista comparte lo que tiene con aquellos que no tienen nada. POR UNA CUBA SOCIAL-DEMOCRATA, VIVA EL PUEBLO DE CUBA!!!

  10. Yoani thanks for pointing out the benefits you enjoy in Cuba were children are provided with daily milk compared to the Land of the free were children go without. It is a known fact that 35 to 40% of school children go to school hungry and that the poverty rate continues to climb. Also thanks for pointing out the grapes that are grown with chemicals and picked by cheep labour so that the multi national corporations can improve their bottom line.
    P.S. In the new year can you please continue to point out the exploitations of the poor in the north and the destruction and murder world wide committee by the empire.

  11. 291RC your JAVITA is ready. CUBA is in SHAMBLES. Lo de Cuba es un descaro, el govierno haciendo dinero y cobrando lo que el mundo le dono a Cuba por los ciclones. Seria bueno que lo estados unidos no manden NADA para que tengas rason hablar basura. Los mucachos flako estan en Cuba y lo que le ensenian en las escuelas es “LA PROPAGANDA” de Fidel. QUE DESCARO, YOANI sige, el mundo te presta la oreja.
    For record sakes “THE CHEAP LABOUR” make more in one day in this GREAT NATION OF RIGHTS, than an average Cuban makes in a month.

  12. What on earth is this blogging lady moaning about? She seems very unhappy with living in a poor country, even one which gives free milk to children, as well as doctors and schools.

    If she thinks capitalism is so great, why doesn’t this selfish lady move somewhere where she’d be happy, like a shanty town in Haiti, or a favella in Brazil? Of course, she won’t, because she imagines that Cuba would be just like the USA if only that bad man Castro went away. She wants a little middle class life, and screw the rest. i.e. just how it was before the revolution. It’s pretty sad to see how many idiots have been taken in by her.

  13. Dear Brit….I am an American. I am one of her “idiots”. I am glad to read some first hand accounts from someone who lives there. Maybe it is time for you to read some of Ayn Rand’s books.

  14. @John… well put sir.

    @British: If you’d actually read the blog and got a little perspective (i.e. traveled to Cuba and lived like a Cuban) you’d know that it isn’t all roses. This “lady” called Yoani lives in Cuba because she believes in change, she believes that her country could be better served by a political system that isn’t a dictatorship. I’m sure that you live in a country where you can vote and express your opinions and you can walk into any store and buy milk or meat… well she doesn’t, she lives in a place where after the age of 6 you are no longer allowed your ration of powdered milk.
    She’s not bashing what she CAN have, she’s bashing the fact the she COULD have more but because of the current government she doesn’t. Go to school, read a book, be a little more open minded to things and stop making snap judgments about us “idiots” who have been where she has been and have had to scrounge on the black market for the most basic necessities.
    Also last time I checked the potential to be middle class beat the crap out of forcibly being destitute.
    Have a nice day,
    (Notice I didn’t have to result to name calling to make my point)

  15. December 19, 2008, 0:30 p.m.

    Revenge of Che
    No amount of Hollywood puffery will change the fact that commies aren’t cool.

    By Mark Goldblatt

    Hollywood’s latest round of “Che-mania” kicked off last Friday in New York with a one week preview of Steven Soderbergh’s epic four hour biopic on the life and times of Ernesto Che Guevara. The film opens nationwide, edited into two halves, in January.

    When asked why the movie needed to be so long, co-producer and star Benecio Del Toro replied, “That is a question for Che. Why such a fulfilled life? We believe that this is the shortest film about Che Guevara’s revolutionary life that could be made.”

    Well, no.

    The shortest film about Che’s revolutionary life has already been made. In it, a couple of scruffy, paramilitary- looking, motorcycle-riding cartoon cockroaches decide to “take over” a kitchen, running amok until a giant musc le-bound can of Raid appears and “kills them dead.”

    Guevara, in reality, belongs to that species of human vermin who attach themselves to a charismatic villain — in Che’s case, Fidel Castro; in Heinrich Himmler’s case, Adolf Hitler; in Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s case, Osama bin Laden — and enact their murderous agendas until the countervailing forces of history end their pathetic existences. Granted, Che is more photogenic than either the thin-lipped Poindexter Himmler or the hairy-backed Super Mario Brother Sheikh. It’s hard to imagine either of them ever moving a gross of tee shirts the way Che does. But the fact that Che continues to sell is a testament to the historical ignorance of every consumer of his visage.

    Indeed, one of the ongoing mysteries of American popular culture is why Communism is merchandised more often and more effectively than Nazism or Islamism. Is it just a matter of public relations? Why does an obsessive Nazi-hunter like Simon Wiesenthal get positive press while an obssessive Communist-hunter like Joe McCarthy is vilified? Why is Marxist Theory, with its alternative view of individual versus collective rights, an accepted academic discipline — but Sharia Theory, with its alternative view of female empowerment, an insult to women?

    The truth of the matter is that Nazism, Islamism, and Communism are all totalitarian movements. All three stand in direct opposition to Enlightenment values of religious tolerance and rational inquiry. All three seek to exterminate whoever stands in their way. Nazism justifies its genocide in the name of racial purity. Islamism, in the name of spiritual purity. Communism, in the name of socio-economic purity.

    One way or another, the shallow graves get filled.

    So as you sit in the darkened theater, listening to Soderbergh’s Che murmur dreamily that the true revolutionary is guided by “love,” you might want to consider how that love was manifested in a man who used to lay on his side on top of a wall, chomping a cigar even as he urged on the firing squads he commanded.

    Or you might consider Che in his own words.

    Here is Che, for example, recounting the execution of Eutimio Guerra for betraying the Cuban revolution: “I fired a .32 caliber bullet into the right hemisphere of his brain which came out through his left temple. He moaned for a few moments, then died.”

    And here’s Che philosophizing on the rule of law: “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.”

    Oh, and here’s Che lamenting the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis: “If the missiles had remained, we would have used them against the very heart of America including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. In this struggle=2 0to the death between two systems we must gain the ultimate victory. We must walk the path of liberation even if it costs millions of atomic victims.”

    Finally, here’s Che on his commitment to his cause: “In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.”

    Which raises an intriguing entomological question: Can a cockroach squish a worm?

    — Mark Goldblatt writes from New York.

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