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i am in cuba now- nobody really knows what is going on but there is speculation prices on almost all items will increase. my friends say they usually know when and why such things are coming, but this was a complete surprise. all the stores (including lcdhs) have been closed and all supplies have been moved to central locations- some conjecture this is for inventory, but who knows. below is the story from the ny times:

CORRECTED: Shoppers Potential Casualties in Cuba / US Battle
By REUTERS

Published: May 11, 2004


Filed at 5:19 p.m. ET

HAVANA (Reuters) - Anxious to avoid devastating price hikes, Cubans rushed to stock up on pasta, canned food, cooking oil and soap on Tuesday after the government announced emergency measures in the face of new U.S. sanctions aimed at ending communist rule on the island.

Lines formed outside packed government-run stores -- which take only dollars not Cuban pesos -- to buy whatever was available.


``People got up early to shop and hoard goods as if there was a war and Cuba was about to be bombed,'' said a plumber, who asked that his name not be used.

President Fidel Castro's government on Monday night suspended the sale of all but food, personal hygiene and cleaning products in dollar shops saying it was countering Washington's ``brutal and cruel'' steps to reduce the amount of money sent to Cuba by relatives in the United States.

Money from the United States supplements meager peso wages for most Cubans, allowing them to buy goods only available in dollar stores. The average salary paid by the state in pesos equals about $15 a month.

Cuba has had a dual peso-dollar economy since the U.S. currency was legalized in 1993. In contrast to the dollar stores, shops that accept pesos rarely have anything more than rice, beans and black tobacco cigarettes.

Prices for non-essential goods and gasoline will be raised, though subsidized staples and fruit and vegetables at peso-priced farmers markets will remain fixed, the government said in a statement.

BLAMING BUSH AND CASTRO

Waiting in line outside the Carlos III shopping center in downtown Havana, Cubans were confused and uncertain about the future, and blamed both Bush and Castro for their hardship.

Clothing, appliance and hardware shops were closed.

``We must resist the U.S. threat firmly, but in this political fight the only ones who suffer are ordinary Cubans,'' said office worker Raisa Hernandez. ``How will I dress my children?''

Some Cubans were suspicious of the emergency measures, saying the cash-strapped state was taking advantage of Bush's aggressive policy to stock up on dollars.

``Bush handed the government a pretext to hike prices on a silver platter,'' said one frustrated shopper.

Castro's government, which has weathered four decades of U.S. acrimony, said the action was necessary to harness scarce resources needed to maintain free health care and education.

President Bush, calling Cuba a ``tyranny,'' said on Thursday he would step up support for Cuban dissidents and allow Cuban-Americans to send $1,200 per year in remittances only to immediate relatives. Cubans now send back an estimated $800 million a year.

Cuba watchers questioned the impact and timing of Bush's measures, saying they appeared to be tailored to curry favor with hard-line Cuban-American voters in Florida, an important state in November's presidential election.

But they also saw the benefits for Havana, as desperate shoppers emptied the shelves of even dusty leftovers.

``The primary purpose of the Cuban announcement was to portray the new U.S. policy as detrimental to the quality of life of Cuba's 11.2 million citizens,'' said John Kavulich, president of the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which monitors the Cuban economy. ``It is a good way to cleanse your inventory and at the same time serves a political purpose.''
 

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``It is a good way to cleanse your inventory and at the same time serves a political purpose.''

Sounds like we are helping castro and not hurting him. Really I think he likes this stuff, lifting the embargo would probably kill him.

The poorer we make the cuban people, the more chances they will take to reach our shores, probably will be an influx of them over the summer.

joe
 

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MoTheMentor
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Sad,

And it really pisses me off at how much hardship we place on fellow humans. Ah, and all for the sake of politics. [So who's stupider, Bush or Castro? . . . who the F--- cares]

As an unrelated aside, the article mentions the following, With oil prices up 25 percent this year, freight costs twice what they were a year ago, and fuel costs pushing up tourist travel bills, the government had to act, said the Cuban economist, who asked that his name not be used. Did you know that one of the main reasons for oil price increases and transportation/shiping cost doubling is due to the very active growth of the Chinese economy.[True]
 

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Huh?
 
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