Saturday, June 18, 2011

The visit to the CUC (convertible Cuban pesos) store & the farmers' market (& the general economic situation in Cuba) on Sun., June 5

So this experience was once in life time. It was very interesting to see how the people of Cuba lived from day to day. The second day of the trip we had the opportunity to see and go to a couple of stores. We went to the CUC (convertible Cuban pesos) store and the farmers market. Both of these places were quite a sight.

The first store we went to on that Sunday, was the CUC store. It was so different, yet interesting, to find out that there were two different curriences in Cuba. How was that possible? Well after I was told in Cuba and after (on my own) researching this a bit more I found the answer. From 1994 the CUC has been treated as the equivalent of a U.S. dollar, but was used rarely. Then in 2004 when the U.S. dollar was no longer being used in Cuba, the CUC became the currency everyone wanted. Now, today, the cuban peso is worth more than a U.S. dollar. It is kind of neat, but it made me and all of my classmates wonder just how exactly do Cubans servive, and this was after we found out about the 'regular pesos.' A regular peso is worth about 24 cents of a CUC. The average amount of money, that we were told in Cuba, that people make was about 15 CUC pesos per month and that is supposed to allow them to live. We got to take a look at the farmers market to see just how possible this was.

Once we entered the farmers market, we were astonished by how cheap things were, but they still did not seem cheap enough. An article I looked at, that could explain the situation even better, the situation I had the chance to witness that prices in the market were way too much for a Cuban citizen: Prices are high - with a head of garlic selling for 5 pesos, a pound of tomatoes for 6 pesos and pork for 35 pesos a pound (0.45 kg), or more than three day's average pay. But despite the hefty costs being paid out, the locals complain the selection on offer still leaves a lot to be desired: "The only things there are today are tomatoes and onions, that is all there is. People choose to go to these places because they are the only places that people can gather fresh fruits and vegetables other than what is already provided by the goverment like rice and beans. Some people would find this most ideal, to live in a world where the goverment takes care of the population, but is also controling practically the entire economy.

The economy in Cuba is one that many people, outside of Cuba, are not truly aware of. The people of the country are making the best with what they have. Although money is hard to come by and it seems that prices on food and other items are becoming more and more out of reach, people still seemed happy I also saw how much people longed for something different. My stay in Cuba taught me that money does not buy everything, but that the life and world we have made for ourselves does. Hopefully the government can allow it's people to live happier lives so that they can survive these conditions.

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