Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES — The Galerias Paseo shopping center, located in the Cuban capital, surprisingly hiked up the prices of the majority of its products, which I myself was able to confirm.
The state-run establishment, which is managed by the TRD (hard currency store) chain which belongs to the Cuban Army, made these price changes without even warning salespeople, who had to deal with customer complaints.
While prices on items remained unchanged, once they were rung through the till, the store’s automatic system picked up on the price increases, causing discontent and arguments in some departments.
It’s worth clarifying that prices didn’t go up just by a few cents. Some products, such as footwear, went up by nearly 8%, and let’s bear in mind that we are talking about an establishment where prices are in CUC (1 CUC = 24 Cuban pesos). The average Cuban worker or professional makes just over 500 pesos a month.
Of course, the precarious system of Customer Protection didn’t offer any of those of us who suffer from these changes any kind of benefit whatsoever.
When the Cuban government reduces some of the products it sells by a few cents, it runs to the media spread the word and to make propaganda. I remember that, not too long ago, a whole Mesa Redonda (Round Table) show on Cuban TV was dedicated to announcing the drop in the amount mothers would have to pay per kid for sending their children to daycare if they have two children.
Now, mothers will save 30 Cuban pesos (1.25 CUC), but will have to pay 48 pesos more (2 CUC) if they want to buy a pair of shoes.
Price reductions (which are generally one-off occurrences, which only apply to a small number of products, and are of a low percentage) are contrasted with price hikes, which, according to one of the Galerias Paseo’s salesladies, include most of the store’s clothes and footwear items.
Is the Cuban army designing new privileges for its officials? Why isn’t the government media covering these price changes? Isn’t it these kinds of measures that force workers to take to the streets anywhere else in the world?
I don’t believe that we need to take the streets for this reason, especially when these kinds of problems are nothing in comparison to the many other dire situations we Cubans face on a daily basis. However, it’s a good indicator of the level of social apathy there is here, and that’s what those in power rely on to continue governing Cuba.