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.
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.