Distributed by CubaNet

FROM CUBA:

THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF SOCIALISM. By Victor Rolando Royo, Forum for Reform.

PINAR DEL RIO, May 13, 1996.- "Our objective, as a socialist State, is to produce the goods and services which the population and the workers need. The end, which is being sought by all the steps that we are undertaking, is the good of the people. We prefer an austere life for all than luxuries for some".

These words have been uttered, at different public speaking engagements, by Carlos Lague, the pediatrician who has turned into a spokesman for the political economy of the Cuban regime.

According to the high functionaries of the regime, they have not attempted to apply shock measures to the economy in Cuba. Then, I don't know just how to call the situation faced by thousands of workers who have lost their jobs, or the difficult conditions in which, the public at large, finds itself, within the alleged economic advantages of Cuban socialism.

Official data indicates that the median monthly salary of a Cuban worker is 187 pesos, or $7.50 at the unofficial exchange rates, in other words, a worker is receiving 7 pesos 80 centavos as an average for 8 hours of work, and face all the expenses, their own and their dependents, with this amount.

The pitiful allottments per family, which the regime sells to the population through the ration card, is diminishing and must be supplemented with other foodstuffs which the State sells at extremely high prices. The same thing happens with industrial products, which can only be purchased in dollars at special stores.

The last ration card issued by the government was in 1991 and the samplings undertaken place in evidence that the rations are intact, which proves that, in five years, they have not made available to the population what was supposedly allotted to them for a year. According to Carlos Lage, there hasn't been a case in Cuba of someone getting paid in hard currency, and this leads to the conclusion that, if someone were to exchange their miserly salary into dollars, they are taking the risk of breaking the law, because they allow you to hold hard currency, but not to buy it or sell it.

It is common for political leaders, economists, sociologists, and others, to make known how long must an average worker work in order to buy services or receive material goods in order to live decently. This type of information is not agreeable to the leadership of the revolution because it would place in question the much touted accomplishments of the revolution and socialism.

Keeping in mind the above stated data, they've covered a lengthy list of basic needs, of which we are merely offering a sampling, of what a Cuban worker must earn to obtain them.

Examples:

                                Man-hours.
A refrigerator,                 11,597 
A 14 inch color TV,             8,067   
A washer,                       6,675           
A kingsize bed,                 3,685   
A fan,                          618             
A pair of sneakers,             175     
A girl's dress,                 144             
A doll,                         143
A school bookbag,               123     
A woman's dress,                123             
A man's pair of pants(used),    103
A bath towel,                   31      
A deodorant,                    23              
A bar of soap,                  11
A ham pizza,                    12      
A beer or a soda,               7               

I hereby leave to your analysis and judgement, those of you who have had the patience to read me, the conclusions to this cronicle, thinking about that old proverb which says something like this:

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions".


Translated for CubaNet by Lourdes Arriete.