Counterfeit Money

Her son pulled on her skirt asking for candy, while the guard demanded the ticket from the cash register and someone asked, insistently, for the purse-check ticket. In the midst of all this madness, she made the mistake of not checking her change for the purchase, a little over 6 CUC that had to last until the end of the month. When she got home she discovered that hidden among the coins was one with the face of Che Guevara, who, with his majestic gaze, tried to make himself pass for a one convertible peso coin. The lady ran back to confront the vendor, but no one paid any attention. She’d been ripped off by one of the most common tricks of the hard currency stores: giving her a three Cuban peso coin in place of a shiny CUC, with eight times the value. She had the urge to throw that tiny coin through the window, but her husband recommended she sell it to some tourist to recover the lost money.

Life offers these unpredictable somersaults. The face of Guevara, the former Central Bank president (1960), looks at us now from a coin that is used primarily as a souvenir or as an object of deception. That man who had the irreverence — some will say the disrespect — to sign the national bank notes with his brief nickname, “Che,” is contained within a circle of metal of doubtful value. Trapped in this monetary duality that he never imagined hovering over the chimeric “New Man” of his discourses. All around the hotels, now, one sees the elderly with their poverty-level pensions, showing a foreigner the “merchandise” of these shiny three-peso coins, with a beret and jacket-clad guerilla. Meanwhile, the clever hand of a cashier managed to sneak them into a client’s change, taking advantage of the distraction of a confused customer caught between the demands of her son for candy, and of the doorman who checked her bag.


122 thoughts on “Counterfeit Money

  1. Damir Agosto 27th, 2011 at 01:25
    “… A rat changes the fur, not the character!!!

    119Damir Agosto 30th, 2011 at 04:01
    “… I have noticed the degree of Alzenhaimer’s progression. I shall wait patiently until tonight to see it run its’ course …”

    Poor pitiful fool LOL

  2. The people are protesting in public in Cuba. The Castro thugs beat women protesters in Palma Soriano and now working its way to the media. Damir , your days are counted. Its shameful when women get beat for demanding civil rights. Ones right to express themselves is just BASIC. The revolution is a failure and now falling apart as Cubans are loosing their fear of the customary beatings and unjust jail terms. Thank you Damas de Blanco for being so brave and noble. Castro’s thugs are pure low class CHUSMERIA. Happy to not want to be a member of that club.

  3. Don’t you love when the team “yoani”, completely subconsciously call tehmselves hypocrites? Even better is when their cowardly puny little servants, the support brigade do the same.

    Only last week, Pablo mIlanes was called names and declared the enemy of the usanian citizens in Miami who think they are “Cubans”.

    Tday everyone from tehe team “yoani” to the last copy and paste genius in their support brigade (all 1 and a half person) are declaring him “dear”.

    Dear as in “Dear Supreme Leader”, I would imagine…

    He must be feeling like Napoleno when he escaped from Elba and went on to re-conquer Paris. The first day was “hateful animal”, the next he was Napoleon, the day after was Messieur Bonaparte, and the day before he entered Paris was “Imperator Napolen Bonaparte”.

    Bunch of hypocrites.

    Just keep in front of you the part where Pablo Milanes says “I am from the left, and I am faithful to the socialism.”

    And that he said that in the hear of Miami.

    Now THAT is powerful.

    The posts below, on the other hand are just the content of the sewage in Miami.

  4. I have noticed the degree of Alzenhaimer’s progression. I shall wait patiently until tonight to see it run its’ course and take you away where you belong…

    Even anglos have realised where they are going. Just the sewage brigade from Miami thinks they live in paradise.

  5. UnSoricel
    Agosto 28th, 2011 at 13:23
    “…Castro fought in the jungle he has no fear and dying or of you guys…”


  6. #115&116 In Eastern Europe we thought our dictator was just a coward with no education and a megalomaniac…. He proved us wrong he was articulate …a good strategist and ready to die for his beliefs .. And he did die doing that …he gave us no satisfaction for being killed.. I am saying you are up against a bigger wall than you think ….Castro fought in the jungle he has no fear and dying or of you guys … His fear is somewhere else! That is what he defends..

  7. @#115
    U r right, Jose Marti didn’t escape the revisions of history made by the rebolution, why would the memories of el chancho be any different however: there are is still documentation, oral & writen that escaped the fate of “necessary” review, not valued at the time yet keept in the vaults than no one could see then but now open for the world …

  8. UnSoricel, I don’t know how much of Che’s diaries are authentic, if they were originally published in Cuba I’m sure they are largely the work of Fidel or his underlings.

    But what is important is that you think that anyone willing to die for something is a hero. Following your logic, Hitler was a hero, and so was every suicidal psychopathic serial killer out there, like the boys at Columbine. If you define that as courage, I would say that courage is not a great human quality all by itself.

  9. @#113
    I like to belive u r proposing to search for truth so perhaps u’ll allow me to humbly submit to start w/his last: Bolivia, work back all the way to the Central America look for patterns in planning, geographical area & socio-political context, not just w/the Americas but over the world. I know, it is a tall order yet u might be surprised of what u’ll find; today all that is history, yesterday it was experienced by us the old timers. The only thing we might have in commun, u & I is the idealism of youth … that alone represents hope for me. Finally, yes all his diaries show his spirit ie: mind his comments about the Congo mission & keep in mind his letter to fidel & the importance of timing …

  10. @Alberto – how can I be sure…but none the less I am interested. Not sure you really want to talk more than tell me I know nothing. I read his journal in Bolivia…and not in English but in a Latin language since I wanted to catch a bit more of the spirit if there was any. Even in his journal one could see things were going terribly wrong and he should have left 1 month earlier at best. He stood a better chance with guerrilla warfare in the city than in the middle of nowhere.. he never changed tactics..and he seem to have a craving for it to end… I think he was right not to give power to the bolivian communist party but in my opinion that cost him his life cos he had not support and no way out… That is what I got …

  11. @#110
    U really think u know what u r talking about don’t u?
    I suggest u do some research …

  12. Félix I. Rodriguez, a Cuban ex-agent of the CIA, was head of the team advising the Bolivian army in the capture of Che Guevara. He talked to Che after his capture, and beside other things they talk about the economy: “We talk about Cuba. He admitted to me that the economy was in a shambles, largely because of the economic boycott by the U.S. “But you helped cause that,” I told Che. “You-a doctor-were made president of the Cuban National Bank. What does a doctor know about economics?”

    “Do you know how I became president of the Cuban National Bank?” he asked me. “No.”

    “I’ll tell you a joke.” He laughed. “We were sitting in a meeting one day, and Fidel came in and he asked for a dedicated economista. I misheard him – I thought he was asking for a dedicated comunista, so I raised my hand.” He shrugged. “And that’s why Fidel selected me as head of the Cuban economy.” The sad reality is that the joke has been on the Cuban people.

  13. @Albert … For someone like Che who sacrificed his life in Bolivia… Almost certainly knowing he would die there… It is a bit ‘rough’ to call him a coward! Moreover there were a number of Cuban fighters with him who died too and some made it back.. and it seem a lot of the Cuban fighters liked him and were prepared to die with him. personally I was more interested in those fighters than in him they felt more real…and so little is written about them…as opposed with how much is written about Che…. Maybe it is because Che fell for the trick to believe Marxist ideology word for word and to sell it constantly to others… What you describe is a Russian Marxist…which he probably became… Strange how Russia had such an influence on his thinking ultimately… And not the people and what he saw around him. Arrogance is part of youth and western politicians have it in abundance too the likes of Sarkozy…


    VIDEO ENTREVISTA: Pablo Milanés habló en exclusiva para Radio y TV Martí

    “Me siento satisfecho de que esto haya generado todo tipo de opiniones. Todo el mundo está en su derecho y es bueno que estas conversaciones tengan lugar”, dijo en referencia al polémico concierto en Miami.

    EL PAIS : Querido Pablo – por Yoani Sanchez

    La Habana y Miami son de esas ciudades que están muy lejos a pesar de solo ubicarse a unas millas de distancia. Las confrontaciones políticas a ambos lados, los impedimentos para viajar y un discurso de cinco décadas de enfrentamiento han provocado que el estrecho de La Florida nos parezca insondable. Tímidamente empiezan, no obstante, a levantarse puentes en cada orilla, todavía frágiles e incompletos, pero al menos son un atisbo de un posible y futuro reencuentro. Entre esos gestos de concordia, ninguno ha levantado tanta polémica como el concierto de Pablo Milanés que está programado para hoy, 27 de agosto, en el American Airlines Arena de Miami. Seguidores y antagonistas se enfrentan en un careo sobre la pertinencia o no de que el conocido cantautor se presente ante los exiliados cubanos.

    La querella me ha hecho desempolvar algunos recuerdos de aquellos años de subsidio soviético, cuando el panorama de la música cubana era gris y chato. Todavía no había venido Ry Cooder a descubrir a los viejitos del Buena Vista Social Club, los videoclips extranjeros apenas se colaban en algunos espacios televisivos y tener un reproductor de casetes era algo tan remoto como poseer un trozo de meteorito. La existencia de una lista negra con cantantes exiliados y otros tantos prohibidos hacía que cada día desaparecieran más y más voces de nuestro ya menguado espectro sonoro. En las pesadísimas radios que se importaban de Europa del Este, al mover el dial solo era posible encontrar -una y otra vez- la voz de Silvio Rodríguez o de Pablo Milanés.

    Con sus canciones ellos habían creado la banda musical de la utopía, los acordes que acompañaban a un proyecto social que muchos no habíamos ni siquiera podido elegir. Quienes crecíamos bajo esos estribillos, identificábamos a la Nueva Trova con el poder, el statu quo, el Gobierno.

    Fuera de la Isla, sin embargo, las mismas canciones que a nosotros nos saturaban hasta el cansancio cobraban otras connotaciones. Fueron los himnos de miles de jóvenes que querían alcanzar ese espejismo del que muchos cubanos estábamos de ida y de vuelta. Las letras interpretadas por Pablo Milanés se convirtieron en verdaderos cánticos de protesta en países como Chile, Argentina y España. El cantautor -nacido en Bayamo en 1943- parecía estar en la cima de su popularidad internacional, pero el camino transitado para llegar hasta ahí no había sido nada fácil.

    Pablo tropezó también con la intolerancia que expulsó a tantos colegas suyos de la radio y la televisión nacionales. A mediados de los años sesenta el autor del célebre tema Yolanda fue recluido en la UMAP (Unidades de Ayuda a la Producción), campos de trabajo forzado donde se pretendía reformar a golpe de disciplina militar y de labores agrícolas a religiosos, homosexuales y desviados ideológicos. Después de eso su periplo personal y artístico se mezcló con el de las instituciones, especialmente con la Casa de las Américas. Llegó incluso a convertirse en diputado de nuestra Asamblea Nacional. De ese periodo pocos le perdonan no haber roto la unanimidad de tantas manos levantadas y atreverse a decir en voz alta las opiniones críticas que ya tenía.

    Pese a su silencio público, todos empezamos a notar que Pablo Milanés se separaba del oficialismo. No lo hacía con declaraciones altisonantes ni con evidentes tomas de posición, sino lentamente, sin rupturas. El punto climático de ese desgajamiento vino, sin dudas, cuando en 2003 se negó a firmar una carta donde se intentaban justificar las medidas represivas tomadas por el Gobierno cubano. Bajo el nombre de Mensaje desde La Habana para amigos que están lejos, varias personalidades de nuestro quehacer artístico y literario respaldaban hechos de una tremenda violencia judicial. Entre ellos, el fusilamiento de tres jóvenes que habían secuestrado una embarcación para emigrar y el envío a prisión de 75 opositores pacíficos. Pablo se desmarcó de tal compromiso político, aunque otras conocidas voces como Omara Portuondo, Amaury Pérez y Silvio Rodríguez sí suscribieron el documento.

    En entrevistas a medios extranjeros, Pablo Milanés ha pronunciado críticas a la gestión del Gobierno cubano. Hasta ha llegado a decir que cree “en el sistema, pero no en los hombres que lo hacen”. Herejía de grandes proporciones, si se habla de un proyecto político que durante 50 años se ha intentado hacer a la imagen y semejanza de Fidel Castro. Pero sería errado tachar a Pablo como un disidente. Aunque durante los meses del año que pasa en Cuba evita mezclarse en actos públicos demasiado ideologizados, tampoco ha roto lanzas desde aquí adentro para que se respete la discrepancia o se paren los mítines de repudio.

    Sin embargo, su mérito mayor estriba en haber encontrado su propio espacio de inconformidad, su manera muy personal de ser él mismo. Ya no está en todos los puntos del dial de la radio cubana, es cierto, pero en unos días cantará en Miami y contribuirá con su voz al delgado y frágil puente que se levanta entre las dos orillas.

    Yoani Sánchez, periodista cubana y autora del blog Generación Y, fue galardonada en 2008 con el Premio Ortega y Gasset de Periodismo. © Yoani Sánchez / bgagency-Milán.

  15. #@103
    He always came across sardonic & arrogant; he knew everything & his rigidity of thought sometimes resulted in casualties while fighting against batista’s forces (not necessarily by batista’s forces).
    There were only two things keeping him in check: his lack of courage & fidel, che was all bravado until challanged, later on when he had “power” he proved himself vindictive & petty.
    I belive the “new man” was not him …

  16. @#99
    “…My query was how is the fact that El Che`s face on the 3 pesos coin responsible for this vendor ripping of the lady…”

    Where does it say that?


    WIKILEAKS : Would-be Cuban defectors from Guyana face tough times

    Several Guyana-based Cuban doctors, who wanted to defect to the United States, had fled the airport and gone into hiding, fearing that Guyanese and Cuban officials would have tracked them down and return them to Cuba, a cable released by Wikileaks has revealed.

    Having worked for meagre salaries and unable to save enough, they usually have to endure months of waiting to know whether their parole applications are approved, states the cable from the United States embassy in Georgetown.

    Six Cuban doctors had gone into the United States embassy and were interviewed for Signficant Public Benefit Parole under the Cuban Medical Personnel program.

    “Three of the pending applicants are in hiding, reporting that they cannot move freely for fear that Guyanese police or Cuban embassy personnel may apprehend them and repatriate them to Cuba,” the cable stated back then.

    One of the doctors complained that the Cuban government canceled his passport after he refused to board a plane to ostensibly accompany a six doctor back to Cuba. He told the US embassy that he felt that he was being tricked after Cuban authorities might have been informed that he had visited the American embassy here to request parole.

    “The applicant refused to board the plane because of a hunch that he was being tricked into repatriating himself. Subsequently, Cuban Embassy authorities told him that his passport would be canceled immediately. They also removed him from the medical brigade and labeled him a deserter,” the cable states.

    The Wikileaks cable also reveals that Cuba had dispatched a new manager to Guyana in December 2006, aimed at cracking down on Cuban medical personnel who have intentions to request parole or flee Guyana.The revelation, which is contained in a March 30, 2007 cable from the US embassy here to the State Department, appears to confirm previous news media reports that the Guyana government has taken a policy not to grant citizenship to Cuban doctors who refuse to return to Havana even if they marry Guyanese. The embassy reported to the State Department that the renewal of the doctor’s visa is done done six months prior to the conclusion of their medical mission so that the termination of their legal status will coincide with their repatriation to Cuba.

    The cable notes that Cuban medical personnel who apply for parole are ostracized. Any Cuban medical professional who maintains communication with parole applicants is at risk of losing his/her legal status in Guyana and job with the medical brigade.

    The embassy said three of the parole applicants told the Consular Officer that upon arrival in Guyana members of the Cuban Medical Brigade are forced to surrender their passports and they are returned just before they are about to board the plane to return to Cuba at the end of their two-year stint. Those who went to the embassy with their passports said they fled the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and went into hiding after they were chased.

    “The applicants that came to the Embassy with their passports risked arrest by fleeing from the airport rather than returning to Cuba. They reported that “official-looking” people chased them as they ran to a taxi and drove away from the airport. They went into hiding until they felt safe enough to come to the U.S. Embassy to file an application for parole,” states the cable.

    The embassy told the State Department that the Cuban doctor who was approved for parole was hesitant to travel because he feared for the safety of his female colleagues whose applications had been still pending. Three of the pending applicants had been in hiding and had reported that they could not have moved freely for fear that Guyanese police or Cuban embassy personnel might have apprehended them and repatriated them to Cuba.

    “All of the parole applicants expect their families in Cuba to be targeted for reprisals because of their failure to return to Cuba after the completion of their mission,” the cable added.

    The embassy said that Cuban applicants for parole told them that the only reason that the US embassy in Guyana does not receive many more parole applications is that they are terrified of being seen entering the U.S. Embassy. Consular Officers, according to the cable, sense that Cuban medical personnel are willing to take the risk of requesting parole; however once they do, they are faced with months of delay and uncertainty. “Since many applicants are requesting parole after they have completed the medical mission, they are no longer legally employed and unable to subsist on their meager savings while awaiting a decision from the Department of Homeland Security that can take months to process.

    Against the backdrop of meager funds on which to live, the cable states Cuban medical personnel who have applied for parole rely on former colleagues for assistance. “Presently, they rely on the assistance that some former colleagues are willing to give them at much risk to their own status.”

    “Local charities can offer very little assistance to political refugees. Moreover, every time the applicants have to leave their hiding place to ask for assistance, they risk detention and deportation because of their lack of status,” the cable adds.

    Cuban medical personnel, the cable states, receive very low wages compared to their Guyanese counterparts, and their contracts require them to relinquish fifty percent of any overtime pay to the Central Unit for Medical Cooperation (UCCM) in Havana. The Cuban doctor’s monthly salary is equivalent to US$500 from which US$100 is deducted on a monthly basis and contractually remitted back to the UCCM. Overtime is accumulated at the rate of US$1.25 per hour, and doctors on the overnight shift make US$2.50 per night. In comparison, Guyanese doctors typically make US$1,500 per month.

  18. … just to add, I don’t hate Che, he was just a deluded fool who was at the right place and time to seize power and become a fashion icon. I don’t hate Charles Manson either, but I wouldn’t let him run our country.

    I have heard that Che was extremely obnoxious and that the Cubans who knew him couldn’t stand him. And I understand why the families of his victims as well as most Cubans would want him dead.

  19. @UnSoricel, nothing to get upset about, I was just trying to explain to you how our system works. A central banker in the west is just a guy who goes to press conferences and changes a few interest points in a futile effort to keep the economy stable. Booms and busts are created by you and me, and Greenspan and every other central banker just submits to our pressure. If Greenspan had raised interest rates in the 90s in order to short-circuit the economic boom and prevent the subsequent bust, you would be blaming him for that too, and so would everyone else. So he just follows our wishes and prays his term will end before the economy crashes. I wouldn’t want his job – if the economy crashes, he becomes the scapegoat for every economic ignoramus out there.

    On the contrary Che had real economic and political power. He had no constituencies to answer to, except for Fidel, who agreed to let him experiment on Cuba. No pesky public opinion to get in his way.

    I still don’t get what you’re talking about with the demonstrations. You’re perfectly free to demonstrate in England as long as you’re peaceful, and even if you’re violent and throw rocks at the police at the most you might spend a night in jail, but still keep your job and be back in time for the next riot. There’s been no legal protest in Cuba in over 50 years.




  22. # 83
    Who is shifting the subject Humberto. You are the one copying and pasting all kinds of subjects that have nothing to do with Yoani`s post. All I stated was that there are con artists all over the world just like in Cuba. My query was how is the fact that El Che`s face on the 3 pesos coin responsible for this vendor ripping of the lady. And when really getting down to it, how does Miss Sanchez know that it wasn`t the lady falsely accusing the vendor of slipping him the coin when it was she who lied about it to get back a real CUC pesos from the vendor. Ever think about that??
    #65 Damir
    Well said, its good to see there are other people who still see clearly and don`t get blinded by the false accusations and US backed propaganda in here.

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