The extinction of the Panda

The last domestic appliance distributed through the merit system was a Chinese Panda brand television.  In my building there was a meeting to give away ten brand new ones within a community of more than three hundred people.  Some neighbors nearly came to blows during the discussion to get the equipment, for which they had to pay four thousand Cuban pesos*.  Among those who took home the color TVs were, coincidentally, the most combative and ideologically inflexible.

Those who didn’t catch the evasive Panda satisfied themselves with thinking there would be a second round in which they’d have a greater chance.  But the Asian giant didn’t send new televisions to feed the meritocracy, nor even spare parts to fix the existing ones.  Being on duty for the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) or going to the criticism meetings have lost their attraction because it doesn’t appear that the reward will be the allocation of a washing machine, a telephone line or a portable radio.

Those who made it to the last round of the appliances allocation aren’t very happy either, let us say.  A good share of them haven’t been able to meet the payment deadlines, as the Panda purchase left them with a monthly payment equaling a third of their salary.  I know an elderly woman, for example, who bought the fought-over television only because she was convinced that she would die before she finished paying for it.

Among those who thought they’d received a benefit, worries are now surfacing about the enormous monetary debt contracted with the State.  They were those who believed themselves beneficiaries of a privilege, without noticing they were just paying tribute to an error.  The mechanism that favored them then is the same one that today prevents us from buying an appliance without showing convertible currency, or without relying on a certain political trajectory.

Translator’s note:  4,000 Cuban pesos is roughly $160 U.S. or about $180 Canadian (exchange rates as of today’s date).  The average state salary in Cuba is about 350-400 Cuban pesos per month; the average state pension is less than half that.  At these rates, the TV would be paid off in about three years.


43 thoughts on “The extinction of the Panda

  1. Being the Cubans as close as they are to my heart; and having listened to many of these stories directly from Cubans who risked their life to come to the U.S, I would love for everybody to realize that the blockade of Cuba by the U.S, very sadly, is not hurting the Cuban government but the Cuban people still living is the island.

  2. Pingback: The extinction of the Panda | Cuba News

  3. To Mushba Said in Pakistan

    One thing worth mentioning to you so you have a better understanding of the situation with regards to the control the Cuban Government has over their people is the fact that they have a system of controlling your life; this system is called the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution)

    Picture yourself living in Cuba. On each and every square block of every neighborhood, of every city and on the entire Island, the government has a vigilante group spying and controlling your movements and life 24 hours a day, 365 days of a year for a total of 50 abominable years! This group is called the CDR and is composed of individuals who’s support for the Revolution is unbending, their slogan is “Patria o Muerte Venceremos” which means “Fatherland or death, we shall overcome”

    Hope the above info will be helpful in understanding our culture.

  4. After been here in America for a while I have talk to people that came
    from former comunist countries and was a bit surprise about the similarities
    since we were culturaly so far apart !
    Remember talking to some Russians and it was the same!
    The system is design on purpose that way that is why I have faith it will
    crumbled eventually the same as it did in Europe.
    A system that does not take into account free willing people like we
    all seem to be will fail. Comunism does assume people that follow
    orders etc so it will always fail.

  5. Julio,you brought back memories from my time living in Poland ! We too would stay in line,not knowing what they will deliver to the store .Sometimes for weeks (taking turns),when there supposed be furniture delivery .Of course we didn’t know ,if it is going to be a dinning room set or a sofa ,or how many sets per store (with sometimes hundreds of people waiting in line ).We bought whatever they sold..if not for us,for our family member or a neighbour.We didn’t know when the next delivery will be.

    The same went for shoes,meat,sugar etc.,which was rationed.And it didn’t matter that the shoes were wrong size,we could exchange them (or sell ) with somebody else.

    And we too have “dollar stores”,called PEVEX ,but it was illegal to have dollars.Only if you have a family outside and a PROOF that they sent you the money (and you didn’t buy in the black market !),you could shop in the “dollar stores” .

    I guess,because of so many similarities,and with everything we went through,I understand my Cuban friends .We were also under the same system for more than 50 years,but we broke free.And I truly believe that Cubans will one day (SOON) be also free !

  6. Sounds familiar from the old Warsaw pact. A treasured possession was the basic supermarket plastic carrier bag. When people managed to get hold of these, they would carry around several, neatly folded, in their pockets. Then, as Julio says, they would join ANY queue, on the assumption that whatever was being sold, it could be traded for something you needed. You had to be ready with the bag, in case it was potatoes, or loose rice. Back in 1984 I was on the banks of the Duna (Danube) in old Budapest, when an old chap came along with fruit, I assume from his garden. Of course, I had nothing to put it in so he fashioned a container out of leaves. Between the queuing, bartering, and time wasted for lack of the most basic resources, it’s easy to see why these societies are an unmitigated disaster.

  7. Everyone,
    Thank you for clearing up my confusion.I better understand not only why people would buy something they ca’nt affor,but i better understand Cuba now,and the struggle’s of the people.

  8. Mushba:

    It is very easy to explain and clarify your confusion.

    In Cuba after the end of the 60s, 99 % of the population live as a poor, then, nobody has the opportunity to buy a new TV.

    During the 70s, 80s and 90s, the only way that a simple Cuban was able to get a TV was through the Government’s assignation and after the discussion to decide who will be selected to get the TV among your coworkers.

    Image this the debate, this meeting, this discussion, whatever you want call it, as a open trial to discuss that the Company had 3 TVs to be assigned among 500 employees!!!!!!!!!!!

    In these kind of debate you can hear from : “How many boyfriends you had or have” , “How many times did you come late”, “How many times did you make love with ,,” , until, “How bad revolutionary people you are” ,,,,anything,,,anything!!!!!,,,,just to add something very important that could eliminate one of the “fortunate one” among 500 persons!!!!, then, one by one, until the 3 lucky ones get their TV.

    The TV could be paid , using a credit that the Government will issue to the WINNER!!!! .

    I did read before something that the Cuban average salary is $400-500 Cuban pesos per month?,,,That is not true,,for too many years the average was $120 Cuban pesos, today should be around $200 Cuban pesos per month.

    Remember, nobody can’t use included on the average, the money that is coming form USA or other countries, to help the family, which is transffered to Cuban pesos, will be something wrong!!!!,,because that is not “a salary”,,,that is “help”!!!!.

    At the end of the 90s, Cuba’s Government allowed the “dollars” inside of Cuba, then a small part of the population who is receiving dollars from their relatives outside of Cuba, now could go to some specials stores where they can buy a TV and other things (included food),,,,but just the people who has dollars!!!!

    I will let the rest to your imagination!!!!!


  9. Mushba

    You may or may not know this but Fidel Castro was educated by Jesuits a catholic religious order that I believe practice this “Carrot and stick method” I will dare say that may be the root of why we all were treated that way I suppose he figure that if it worked on educating him and his friends at the school it should work to force the general population into all the things they wanted us to believe so they were forcing their own believes on us. There is actually some words to describe that.

    Some may called indoctrination or brain washing.

    Now you can judge by yourself what it was and if it was working.

    I am the result of that system I am the “new man” they wanted but I have my own light as I explained before so I can see what they did to us and that was very wrong!
    You can’t go treating people like kids, neither you should restrict their freedoms
    That explains why I ended up exiled!

    As you can see Yoani and many many others that have blogs and do not have blogs are also revolting against that system. Because they see what is happening to them
    and they have abundance of that little gift thing from GOD I talked to you about before on prior post called “Free will”.

    It is imposibly hard to make people with free will to conform to a norm
    they will never be elections where 99% of the people vote for the same person. :-)
    Would you believe me if I tell you that they claim that 90 some percent of the people voted for them?
    Would you be so naive to believe that?
    Would you not think that is a lie?
    If that is so true then why not allow Yoani and her other few friend form a party or any other that wants to ?
    Why such a persistence in the unique party?

    The reason why they do not do that is because they are sufficiently smart to not believe their own lies!

  10. Mushba

    Is not that you are easily confused is that Cuban society is difficult to understand for an outsider.
    Let me see if I can answer this

    “why people who ca’nt afford a TV,would fight over one?”

    First let me explain a bit
    When the revolution came few houses in Cuba had TV sets let alone color TV sets. So in the 70s if I remember correctly is when Cubans had access to buy very bad quality black and white TV sets produce by Russia.
    We used to have one of those I believe my mother pay for it the equivalent to 6 month of her salary and it was mostly broken all the time but we were lucky to have one because there were other families that could not even afford it.
    So the answer to your question is because if you do not get it when you have the opportunity you may never get the opportunity again.
    Scarcity is to such extreme in Cuba that I will not be exaggerating if I tell you
    that people will see lines forming in front of a stored and without asking they will get in line to later find out what is the line for.

    Now put all this together think why will the government create this scarcity?
    I believe this scarcity was created on purpose and now you see the government giving
    the right to buy cars, tv sets, radios, watches, washing machines etc but only to the inconditionals.

    That reminds me then of
    “the carrot and stick method”

    You place incentive on the behaviors you want and desincentivate the behavior you do not like so to those that protested the system you will place them in prison or give them hard labor etc etc and make their live really difficult.
    It looks kind of childish and primitive psychology but this is they way the treated us. Are you grasping the idea of what I am talking about? Hope you do since parents behave the same way with children so you should know from personal experience. Just the same as you may not agree with your parents we did not agree with this all powerful government officials in Cuba the difference is that when you are in strong disagreement there is only two possible outcomes one is prison and the other one is to go into exiled.

  11. This is a bit off-topic for this Panda TV discussion thread, but I wanted to follow up on Yoani’s post from last week to talk about how the Cuban gov’t has been portraying the opposition protests after the Iranian election. As Yoani mentioned in a previous post last week, there was no news in Cuba’s state-controlled media about the Iranian election and its aftermath. Cuba’s “radio silence” has also been noted in the U.S. press: http://www.washing, and she herself could only get sketchy reports. The U.S. media has also reported on Cuba’s news blackout concerning the Iranian election results, even quoting Yoani:

    Well, it looks as if the Cuban gov’t-controlled media is finally talking re: the Iranian election protests, and the response is predictable. “Granma” published an essay written by some former Reagan administration official (that’s gotta be a first!), black helicopter crowd right-wing conspiracy theorist who claims that the Mousavi opposition protest movement is simply the work of the CIA:

    Pathetic! I wish this site were more interactive, so that Yoani could engage in conversation with us, but of course I know only too well the constraints under which she works.

  12. When you make comments like this, you are confusing others who are not aware of the truth. I challenge you to dissect your comments, sentence by sentence and back them up with facts instead of lies.


    Junio 29th, 2009 at 15:09
    ho Please before 1959, there was a tremendous corruption in Cuba, the american mafia contloled all the funky places in Habana and murder hundres of young people just for nothing.
    Cars , electric apliances were not use for a large representation of Cubans, While Habana and Santiago de Cuba were well developed the rest of the island only live desent during “la Zafra” , a lot of families dies of starvation and medical problems that could be cure with a medical treatment.
    What Cuban Need Right now is freedom of speach, turn down the Embargo and be penetrated by the USA, it will make a better Cuba for all of us.)

    As for your comments about the embargo, I want you to get your facts straight.


    In 2008 alone, Cuba bought in CASH, yes in CASH A TOTAL OF 711.5 MILLION DOLLARS

    In 2009 from Jan thru April the total ascends to 234.1 Millions, so far.

    The big misconception about the Embargo from people like you, who wants the end of the “so called embargo” is that if the new Administration of Osama, excuse me, Obama, do away with it, then and only then the Cuban Government will be trading with their most acerbic enemy and the American people will footing the bill and pay for the trade.

    So there you have it: On top of all the economics ills that this country is now facing, go ahead and add more by providing economic assistant to a Communist Nation.

    If Cuba wants to keep buying our products to supply the apartheid system, let them continue to pay in CASH like they are doing now.

    See Foreign Trade Statistics at

  13. Hi all people of the www,internet, and the Cubans brothers and sisters.


    WE HAVE THOUSAND AND THOUSAN KILL for the Castro regim in haf cicle of dictature
    and now we have a susesor of the hereditary tirany.

    Cubans, military, soldiers, class oficials and people in general. We want freedom for Cuba, just freedom and liberty.

    Go with the BERDL.

  14. This is the world that Castro want to distroyer, the democracy the well and nice
    democracy he obly want that the world be COMMUNIST Castro tro out the capitalism for the cubans people, no for him, jus for the poor people.

    Soon as he took the poewr in Cuba, he made a organizatio cald Tree continental, cald for Asia Africa, and America, for diliver the Terrorism from Cuba to all thuse continets. that we have now in the world.

  15. SASlud,salud, salud.

    hO, you are a layer
    befere 59 Cuba was a just a country with democracy, not so bad than EE.UU.
    And the monany, the C uban PESO was 2 cents ober the Dollar, and when that happen
    the people are corrupted. coman hO.!!!

  16. ho Please before 1959, there was a tremendous corruption in Cuba, the american mafia contloled all the funky places in Habana and murder hundres of young people just for nothing.
    Cars , electric apliances were not use for a large representation of Cubans, While Habana and Santiago de Cuba were well developed the rest of the island only live desent during “la Zafra” , a lot of families dies of starvation and medical problems that could be cure with a medical treatment.
    What Cuban Need Right now is freedom of speach, turn down the Embargo and be penetrated by the USA, it will make a better Cuba for all of us.

  17. Before 1959 and until 1961, we had in Cuba car’s dealers, where anybody was able to buy a new or a used car, exactly like anybody else in the rest of the world, in those years.

    After Castro took over the power, by 1961 he did cancel everything related with USA, including the import/export of cars from and to USA!!!!.

    From that moment on, and just until 1974 the Cuban people did not see any new cars -with the exception of Diplomatic or Government cars-, then, in 1974, Cuba was able to obtain a credit from Argentina and we were able to see new cars, entering the Island (by the way, Cuba never paid back the Credit to Argentina, it was replaced years later, assuring that the terrorism imposed by groups like “The Montoneros”, totally would disappear from Argentinian soil!!!!!)

    Those cars, such as: Fiat 125, Peugeot 404, Dodge, Ford Falcon, Chevrolet (Chevy), were old models assembled in Argentina and sold out to Cuba.

    The Fiat 125 and Peugeot 404, were distributed using the following formula:

    “Assigning them just for professionals (Engineers, Doctors, Counters, etc) in each company, after the normal and typical “Debate” where all the political and unconditional reasons were out to assign the car.

    Once the car was assigned, supposedly, was a “private car”, then, the owner had the opportunity to receive a credit and he would use the car, providing services to his Company.

    The Government made clear that the car was not transferable to anyone, even to the children, or the spouse!!!!!.If the person left the country (legally or illegally) the car would be Government Property immediately!!!.

    In Cuba, every year the Government require that each car should get the updated of his registration, but to do so, the owner must be PRESENT with the CAR,,,both physically present in front of the officer who is in charge of that checking process.

    Can you image?,,the only way to obtain one false registration could be if the office receive a big amount of money and that, only will assure the transaction until the following updated, for which may be there is another person which is asking for more money!!!!.

    In other words, the situation about the Crumbs!!!! assigned by Castro’s regime is something hat has been happening over and over and over!!!!.

    Memories: Remember the process too obtain:

    One wrist watch (Poljot, Raketa, etc)!!!!.

    One “Caribe TV ” (black and white)!!!.

    One “Aurika” washing machine!!!!.

    And I don’t want to mention what do we had to do, to obtain a house, or a trip to go outside as vacationers ( going to USSR, and the rest of the East Communist Countries),,,,it was a human slaughter!!! a real butchering!!!!!.


  18. As they say in Honduras, “When they go on about the ‘homeland’ the people fear for the future” (my translation). Manuel Zelaya has been overwhelmed by the spirit of “caudillismo” sweeping the region and imagined himself to be a second (or fourth or fifth) Hugo Chavez, himself a would-be reincarnation of Abuelo Caudillo Castro. He thought he could rule by decree, ordering the army to undertake tasks which the Congress – the ultimate custodians of the constitution – and the Supreme Court had ruled illegal. In the end, it seems Zelaya’s writ didn’t run much beyond his own bedroom. It’s always unsettling to see the military intervening in politics anywhere and The US and EU are both correct to stress the need for constitutional rule in Honduras.
    As for Ernesto – the Rosario psychopath – I think he was the archetect of his own destruction, Humberto. Had his arrogance not precluded the most elementry research (the British Army has a slogan, “Time spent in reconnecence is seldom wasted”) he would have realised that Santa Cruz is just about the least likely place in Bolivia to support a Stalinist/Maoist uprising. Today it is at the centre of opposition to Morales. The people weren’t rich but they owned their own land and weren’t about to give it up to become serfs in a failed Cuban-style state. Even the Bolivian Communist Party denounced his operation and Castro, on orders from Moscow, had no option but to leave him to twist in the wind. Why? Because as far back as the 1960s, even Fidel knew the revolution had failed and that he would be dependent on the Soviet Union in perpetuity.

  19. Cuba condemns Honduras coup as “criminal, brutal”

    HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba on Sunday condemned the military coup in Honduras as “criminal, brutal” and demanded the immediate return to office of deposed leftist President Manuel Zelaya.

    OH Fidel (if you are still alive)HYPOCRITE!! You killed off Camilo Cienfuegos, God knows where the remnants of that plane are! And you also killed off Che (he deserved it!!) when you sent and asthmatic, feeble man to the mountains of Bolivia, ill equipped so you can be TOP DOG! The biggest coup in CUBA! KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! The world will know the truth about you like they did with STALIN!!

  20. Thousands of Iranians ignore leaders’ threats, march in unauthorized rally!

    As supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi shout out their support in Tehran, European leaders voice anger at the Saturday arrests of eight British Embassy staffers.

    “According to a witness, who has previously provided accurate information to The Times, numerous opposition figures attended the rally, including presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi; Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard; and both the daughter and wife of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Mousavi supporter.”,0,877375.story

  21. bit of dramatic news from central America today. It will be interesting to watch and see how fast this reaches our friends in Cuba. Yoni and Claudia had current news out of Iran quickly. If you want a good laugh go to the Granma website to read the headlines that are still up that say nobody can stop the referendum in Honduras from happening. Not a coup, just a constitutional crisis.

  22. ***
    Thanks to the translator–my Spanish will never be as good as my English–good job.
    And to JOHN II–re: President Obama’s plans. I do not have any real proof–we will know the truth in a few years. I base my GUESS on his liberal / socialist / marxist / communist background–commie uncle, far left mentors in school.
    His actions on our economy do not make sense to this old engineer. They do not seem to be intended to help–only to put the state in control of banks, auto companies, health care, etc. His actions so far bear out my THEORIES. Cuba shows that the socialist / government approach does not give the best living standards to the people–ask Yoani and the “Y” generation. Not to mention their loss of freedom.
    Gracias al traducciador al Ingles–mi Espanol nunca sera egual a mi Ingles–buen trabajo.
    Y a JOHN II–en referencia a los planes de Presidente Obama. No tengo prebuas definitives–vamos a ver los verdades en unos anos. Sus mentores liberales / socialistas / marxistas / communistas–un tio–y los escuelas que le enseno me dan estas ideas.
    Sus acciones en cambiar nuestra economia no tienen razon a este ingeniero viejo. No parecen ayudar la economia–no mas pongan los bancos, companies de autos, systema medico, etcetera en control del gobierno. Sus acciones recienes parecen soportar mis theorias. Cuba es la prueba que los gobiernos socialistas / communistas no dan la vide mejor a la gente–pregunta a Yoani Sanchez y la generacion “Y”. Y no discuta la perdida de la libertad de la gente Cubana.
    John Bibb

  23. #12 Hristo, if you want to read positive things about the “revolution” visit the websites of Cuban state media (the only media that’s legal in Cuba). Alternatively, you can visit the websites of any of the so-called Cuban solidarity organizations in Western countries.

    Yoani writes about life in Cuba as she sees it without kowtowing to the Castro regime or glossing over the hardships and indignities ordinary Cubans are forced to endure. That’s why I find reading her blog so informative and insightful.

  24. Statue
    I was educated by the revolution and I do not know what was Cuba before the revolution. Everyone keeps insisting it was a better place and it probably was but do not forget that still a majority in Cuba supported Castro at the beginning never mind that it may not be true now.

    The great majority of Cubans now do not know about the Cuba you talk about. Because like me they were born within the revolution. I do recognize I did get good education with the revolution and it was “free” I write that free between quotes because I actually pay for it with the indoctrination and the free work I had to do for the government and the properties they confiscated from my family so what is claimed to be free never was.

    Having social programs like free education and generalized medical care for everyone I see them as positive things and of course we could have gotten that without paying the high price of loosing freedom.

  25. I am reading this blog in disbelieve.
    To say “Yes the revolution had a few good things but we have been reminded every second of our lives how good those few good things were and we had to sacrifice so much for those few good things that we are very sorry we ever got them!”
    I am a product of the old Cuba and proud of it. Many of the people that write in this blog had no idea that there was no need for a “Robolution” These few good things that from time to time the “benefactor” taunted the needy, were in abundance and were available to all who could afford it (and many could afford it) under one monetary system (not two or three) prior to the “Robolution”.
    Good and free educational system, (aside from the many private schools) free health care existed in Cuba before to the “Robolution”, Castro did not invent it.
    A vibrant economy which was the envy of many other Latin nations existed prior to the “Robolution”.
    Looking back, I see we have inherited misery, hate, slavery, envy.
    A new society that in order to survive have learned how to steal and lie.
    A new society has emerged because of what they have learned from the system, expectig everything from the government due to lack of incentives to create and excel.
    Cuba was a good ally of the United States and those of us old enough enjoyed the benefit of this union and the era in which we lived.

  26. For those that did not get it. The Television shown in the picture was made in China and is a very low quality color tv brand name “Panda” so that explains Yoani’s play with words in “The extinction of the Panda”.

  27. Just about a few month before coming to the US at my work place in Cuba the commander in chief (Fidel Castro) gave the school workers 3 cars and a few motorcycles and I participated in one of those shameful meetings were people will do anything to get what they want.
    The people that ended up getting the things were those that were the most inconditionals to the system not necessarily those that do their job best. It was very shameful to watch people behave they way they did for been allow to buy this things.

    I remember another person asked me back them If I was not going to apply for one and I responded they did not bring what I wanted.
    So he asked what did you want?
    I said “I was waiting until they sell us airplanes”
    and he smile back and said so you want the airplane to jump the little lake?
    and I smile back without saying Yes.

    (Little lake) we call the ocean that separates Cuba from the USA.

    This person I talk to was someone I trusted would not rat on me otherwise I would have never even joke about this since it would have mean that I would have loose my job!

  28. Hristo

    Yes the revolution had a few good things but we have been reminded every second of our lives how good those few good things were and we had to sacrifice so much for those few good things that we are very sorry we ever got them!

    I will gladly exchange those few good things to get back our Freedom.

    We could have obtained the same few good things the revolution gave without as much personal sacrifice with different solutions.

    That would have not taken away the basic freedoms

    Like freedom to speak freely whatever you want without been watch by government goons or been place in prison.

    Like freedom to enter and exit your own country


    Now it is very difficult for us that even those early good things we had from the revolution have change dramatically in quality.
    I can tell you that education is not what it used to be and the same with health care.
    So here you have a government that made a lot of promises and deliver very few of them and the ones it deliver after 50 years are now so badly given that you could think they do not exist any more!

    You want good education or a good doctor in Cuba you have to pay for it in one form or another. So you see, there is no much good to talk about Cuba.

  29. I see you have a lot of criticism for the Cuban government, but isn`t there anything positive o write about the revolution? really?

  30. Hey! I just realized that the TV on Yoani’s Blog is similar to one of the ones I got, an APEX brand. Judging from the pictures it looks like a 13″ model, the one I bought over 5 years ago cost me under $100 dollars, maybe this one is under that amount for sure here is the states. $160-$180 for an analog TV these days of that size?!!Fidel and Raul, you sly dogs, probably making over $140 on each set, by the time you devaluate 20% off the money cubans send to their relatives (more after the US charges) so lets say 30% more devaluation!!CAPITALISM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN CUBA, IN ITS WORST FORM! MONOPOLY!!!!!!!!!

  31. when I was in cuba back in 2002 some of the people I meet told me a doctor made about $ 24/mo and a engineer 17/mo. people with less technical jobs like secretary, bus driver ect made even less. They talked about going without food in order to be able to buy shoes. A good way to grasp this is to calculate the number of days (or hours)of work needed to buy some item. You quickly see that cubans are limited to purchasing only the barest necessities and can only afford them after much work , sacrifice and saving. Most of the things we take for granted, that we can purchase after a few hours of working are totally beyond their reach. Add to that the enormous extra charges the despots put on items in the stores and you start to get the picture of their reality. For them buying a television or a refrigerator is like buying a new car or a home for us. When I think of some of the very frivolous things we sometimes do with our money, like flying dogs across country to be bred, I wonder how I could explain that to one of my friends over there. If we could ever smuggle soap, toilet paper and toothpaste into Cuba, enough for everyone. then the regime would collapse.

  32. Clear as good water guys,she is making the cronicles of a time, to be remembered in the future to avoid new mistakes.It’s the “socialist covincent way” of approach to the credit market fiasco all around us,but still pretending that they are good while the rip off is going on.

  33. Thanks English Translator for the additional info.

    John Bibb, if you provide a source to back up your claim that President Obama wants to copy the Cuban government when it comes to the pricing and distribution of color TVs, I’m all ears. Otherwise, it’s a cheap shot.

  34. One of the most distateful events I would experience when I would travel to Cuba was when I had to buy things at the Cuba dollar stores. The prices there at least double of what I could buy things in the USA. WHAT A MAFIA!I would NEVER PAY THOSE PRICES in the USA, but unfortunately that is THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN for Cubans even if they get money from their relatives outside of Cuba. To address Mushba’s comment

    “that one should just live within their limit’s,and not go overboard over something if they ca’nt afford it”


    What is “their limits”? How can you justify this statement when most of the cuban population are educated professionals? I have had several Pakistani clients and they have been some of the most successful ones and educated, with large homes here and great jobs. They own more than one TV and homes, something that is impossible to their counterparts in Cuba.

  35. However you calculate the price, it sounds incredible. I wonder what it is that Cuban TV shows that’s worth the sacrifice? I recently bought a tiny Chinese TV myself, for my garden shed (AKA “La Choza”), in order to watch the cricket. It is tiny – nine inch – and monochrome, but includes AM/FM radio. At £15, it represents less than three hours at the British legal minimum wage. Maybe I should take a few to Cuba, unless they use the American NTSC (“never twice the same colour”) rather than the European PAL (“perfection at last”) system.

  36. Ask and ye shall receive. Please see footnote added to blog post.

    I avoided doing the math in great detail since any estimates of the comparative currency values (even US/CDN are quite variable at the moment), as well as ‘facts’ about Cuban salaries are unsure at best.

    Here’s my source data for the salaries etc.; I have no idea if it’s any good. Comments are welcome from those in the know, and if necessary I’ll change the footnote.

    “The average Cuban salary is about 350-400 Peso Nacional. One Peso Convertible CUC equals 0.9 USA dollars or 24 Peso Nacional. Some people work for less in shops or museums. There are dentists earning as little as 10 dollars a month. A taxi driver can make more money than a doctor. The pension is between 3 to 7 dollars per month. Among the best paid are the Police, between 2500-3000 Peso Nacional (+/- 150$ per month).”

    Does anyone know if it’s really true that cops make that much money?

    Your Friendly English Translator

  37. ***
    The Cuban communist government economy can not provide anything at low cost. The new U.S.S.A. government of President Obama (PBUH) wants my country to copy the Cuban government.
    La economia communista de Cuba no puede provinir ningun cosa a costo bajo. El nuevo gobierno socialista de Presidente Obama (Que Dios le bendiga!) quire que mi pais copiara el gobierno Cubano.

  38. Mushba, I really enjoy your participation on this blog.

    I think the thread title is supposed to be a clever play on words. Sometimes I wish Yoani would provide a bit of additional information. Yoani talks about those receiving the TVs incurring a enormous monetary debt to the state including monthly payments equaling one-third of their monthly salary. How many monthly payments are required to pay off the debt?

    What this post does show is how dysfunctional Cuba’s economic system is even compared to most other developing countries where electronic goods tend to be even cheaper than in developed countries. The TV in the photo seems to about a 20 inch using the old cathode-ray tube (CRT). I could go pretty much anywhere and buy a similar sized TV using newer LCD technology for about $200 Canadian. This is less than one-twentieth of my monthly salary. No need for lengthy payment plans.

    The other thing Yoani’s post shows is how the Cuban regime rips off even its most loyal citizens. Since there is no longer a market in the rest of the world for CRT televisions anymore, I’m guessing that China probably gave away the TVs in question to the Cuban government.

  39. You can say that this post highlight’s one of the many struggle’s of the Cuban people;you can also say that this post also show’s that one should just live within their limit’s,and not go overboard over something if they ca’nt afford it.But i know that the people who fought to get those Panda’s had a good exuse;i do’nt have to know what exuse,i just know they did;for i’ve learned that despite,or possibly because of their situation,the Cuban’s are some of the smartest people.
    I can see lecture’s coming now;i have to say that i’ve started enjoying them queit alot;very eye opening,and mind opening.

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