Alejandro Rodríguez

Alejandro Rodríguez

What a woman sells

The character in the picture sells a song in one peso. She walks through the main streets of Camagüey announcing her crazy offer, and always a joker appears eager to annoy the neighbor who buys "a theme for your friend." The songs that ¨One peso a song¨ usually sings are Mexicans and since Mexicans themes (especially when they involve musical instruments) are usually a Japanese torture, the transaction always ends in a circle of people laughing to death, cornering the interpreter and her victim at the same time. Another lady in the line for ice cream, sells " for five pesos a pair of earrings for any occasion, five pesos for a hand towel and five pesos for the sponge", which according to her are good both for washing or bathing. She has been selling the same for a week, and I in the street, dazed, wondering how many sponges she has left. If it were a payable amount I swear would buy them all, just to stop hearing the hysterical cry, which sounds to me as familiar and uncomfortable as the subject of presentation of the TV news. Cuban women between 50 and 60 years of age are usually...

“Tras la huella” is not “Día y noche”

I don’t like the Cuban detective television show Tras la huella (Chasing crime). During its broadcast on Sunday evenings I change the channel, but then there is Telesur, which I don’t like either, and I have to go back to the detective television show on contemporary deeds of the authorities like for instance, dismantling an “underground network” of young people who program software for a foreign client. Such networks are so underground that even some press media have reported on them. The difference lays in the fact that they are above board. The usual: some guy with a permit as PC Programmer and a group of people hired dreaming about being part of a self-employment cooperative… It is all legitimate. However, one of the broadcasts of Tras la huella portrayed a simple business without permits as a terrible threat to our economy and as suspect of subversion (because what are they loading in the web…?) and even pornography because it involves young people and computers. It is funny that in Cuba –according to a leaflet you are handed at customs when you arrive in the island—pornography is placed by the side of explosives and fire guns, as a deadly threat...

Tienda en Camagüey

Sales in CUC and CUP: One peso or five pesetas…?

In October, 2013, an Official Note published in the Granma newspaper announced the beginning of a process for a single monetary and exchange currency. It would start in the business sector, without a specific time frame or concrete instructions. The intention of the Government to have a single currency –nowadays there is the Cuban peso (CUP) and Cuban convertible peso (CUC)– had been stated in the Guidelines of the Socio-economic Policy approved during the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC by its acronym in Spanish). Then, stores working exclusively in CUC in Havana offered customers the possibility of paying in CUP as well. Now this has spread all over the country: it was simultaneously applied in the rest of the provinces since early June. A report by the National News Agency (ACN by its acronym in Spanish) assured that in the eastern city of Bayamo, for instance, “the authorities chose one of the biggest commercial centers in the eastern part of the country”. Nonetheless, in Camaguey province, the largest commercial center called El Encanto was not chosen for offering this new means of payment. Shoe store La Principal and Plaza Mercado —which offers varied articles—, are leading this...

Private business in Cuba: the unrest in the update

"Most countries would improve if governments would focus more on providing essential public services than in managing companies that would work better in the private sector, (...). When trade liberalization, reducing tariffs and eliminating other protectionist barriers are done right and at the right pace, so as to create new jobs at a pace that inefficient jobs are destroyed, you can achieve significant efficiency gains. " Joseph Stiglitz. New regulations published in the Official Gazette look to upgrade the legal status of self-employment or private economic initiative in Cuba. The text describes each activity-specifically what can be done and what cannot with each license ... - and empowers others which have hitherto been vetoed. The regulations prohibit the sale of clothing and imported industrial objects, and also by private sale of items purchased at the state store network in the country. Both practices enjoyed partial freedoms, although existing law didn’t cover them. As there is no mechanism for a Cuban to import boxers and Chinese cell phones to sell, it was easier to ban than developing the legal body that allowed it, while bringing tax contributions to the state budget. The prohibition to resell goods purchased in state stores, on...

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