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The sale of foreign currency is yet another distraction of the dictatorship to buy time

“They are not going to sell dollars. They are creating a new queue to distract us like fools”; I have heard comments from some of those who waited for the Minister of Economy and the President of the Central Bank to announce, finally, a real sale of foreign currency in CADECA and not this new simulation of an “exchange market” that nothing solves for those who need foreign currency to travel abroad, process a visa, buy a house, a car or to emigrate.

La Mesa Redonda -the television program that since its creation in 1999 by Fidel Castro only serves the dictatorship to announce misfortunes as if they were good news- has just told us another cantinflated, something like that the regime will sell dollars but just to comply with the word pawned a few weeks ago, while they will do it in such a way that it will be as if they were not sold.

It was better said by one of the many memes that are already circulating around the subject: “In terms of availability, we do not have availability.”

Summarizing the hour and a half intervention (which, judging by the sarcastic giggles and complacent speeches of the officials, they wanted to pass off as “good news”), everything is that, first, no person, Cuban or foreign, will be able to buy more than 100 dollars, euros or other foreign currency on the day; second, it will not be able to do it at the airports or in any other place other than the 37 CADECA branches that have been enabled throughout the country for the operation, and third, the sale will be limited to the amount of currency that each establishment, in a way particular, manages to enter on the day by concept of exchange.

I couldn’t say that it was more insulting than the “news” that the Minister of Economy would have laughed out loud at all of us in our faces because, in a way, he did so by playing so crudely with what little intelligence we have left after turning and turning for so many years in this machinery of physical and psychological wear and tear that is Castroism and its decadent “continuity.”

Translated into a more sincere language, his words would sound something like this: “There will be no hard currency for anyone, much less in airports, and if you want to reach the very little we will sell to pretend that we have ‘political will’ and that we are sustainable and prosperous , then you will have to score, fight, sleep, get up early in line at the CADECA, as well as score, fight, sleep and get up early at the TRD in your neighborhood to buy chicken”.

These guys have not been able to communicate it more clearly to us, who, attached to the Party School manual, are experts in confusing things so that our confusion, which has already become our madness, pays off in their favor.

Now, in addition to queues to buy minced chicken, queues for cigarettes, queues for soap and deodorant, for rice, potatoes, oil, bag storage, transportation, ATM, pension, ice cream in Coppelia , the medical shift (which we got out of friendship), the pharmacy (when the medicines from the “card” come in, because the others are officially missing), the coffin, the car for the dead, the flowers, the cremation, the burial and the mass , we Cubans will have queues to buy the currency we need to survive, since the salaries, paid by the regime in national currency, barely serve in the agro-market (out of supply) and the bus (which does not pass).

I already imagine the only possible scenario after the announcement: that of failure disguised as success. During the first days, Cuban television will bombard us with reports by Lázaro Manuel Alonso about how well the sale has worked and how pleased the lucky ones are.

In social networks, the “cyberclarias” will try to do the same but it won’t work out very well with all the negative comments and insults they will receive.

When a few weeks go by, maybe a few days, even a few hours, we will begin to whisper among ourselves about the bad experiences of bribes from resellers to CADECA employees, from the coleros and policemen who notify you of the “availability” if you pay them for the information, from the cashier who resells or reserves 100 dollars for you and even more than 100 if you buy them for 150 Cuban pesos, 160, even 200, according to the price paid by the last bidder.

In that fever of “strange” predictions that the buying and selling of dollars in Cuba always provokes, those who, perhaps trusting too much in Alejandro Gil’s lurching and promises, were not even right a few weeks ago that there would be a sale of currency, although in a scheme similar to that of those times, before 2019, in which it was only officially done for a limited amount (up to 300 USD) at airports, and exclusively for travelers who presented their passport and boarding pass.

Now the new play has been sung: only a maximum of 100 dollars per buyer —when the demand of each Cuban to emigrate or buy a house amounts to thousands— and according to the “availability” of a bank that is more deceitful than bankrupt and that, for Therefore, he never has foreign exchange for you, although he does have to build empty hotels, buy patrol cars and anti-riot equipment.

Even so, infected by the joking spirit of the Minister of Economy, let us imagine to the Cuban that he only has national currency and needs 20 thousand dollars to buy a house. Assuming that he always gets lucky and manages to get the 100 USD allowed every day, strictly adhering to what is legal, he would have to spend 200 days, that is, more than half a year, queuing at CADECA to complete the money.

So that this new announcement has been received like a bucket of ice water by those who dreamed, with a good dose of ingenuity, not only of a real foreign exchange market in Cuba but also of a brake on inflation —indicated as one of the largest in the world—, and above all to the absurdity that dominates the Cuban economy, perhaps as a result of political stubbornness, but also, probably, because some “faithful” who are too “infidel” continue to fuel the old cauldron of Castroism until they see it explode.

However, despite this new and sloppy chapter of “ordering” and “lying”, for the naive persevering, who being in the cinema do not find out what this film is about, there will never be enough evidence that the cracks are very deep in the tired and clumsy body of a government that thinks itself —and trusts itself— monolithic.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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