The ‘El Primor’ store in the town of Zulueta, in the municipality of Remedios, Villa Clara, reopened to the public but as establishment of sales in freely convertible currency (MLC), causing the perplexity and outrage of many locals without access to foreign exchange.
“The EL PRIMOR UC located in the town of Zulueta, belonging to the Remedios de Villa Clara Municipality, is ready to open tomorrow in the MLC modality. Congratulations to your group and Success ”, announced the Facebook account of Tiendas Caribe in the province.
In mid-October 2020, the Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil Fernández said that local sales in dollars would only market “certain products (which he called ‘high-end’) and in certain establishments.”
Fernández Gil also assured that the Cuban government did not have “the intention of eliminating national currencies, nor of expanding the sale in dollars or any other currency in the rest of the trade.”
“It is a transitory measure, which is adjusted to the current context and is necessary but not desirable, which is fulfilling an objective adjusted to the moment that the country is living ”, emphasized Gil Fernández.
Almost a year after his declarations, and with the CUC out of circulation, Cubans can hardly find basic necessities, such as hygiene and personal hygiene, in places other than stores in MLC, which have multiplied throughout the country, despite the fact that the government promised that they would be circumstantial and that the objective of monetary unification It was to eliminate the inequalities that it caused, allowing Cuban workers to consume goods and services in the currency that they charged in their salaries.
As stated at the time by the Minister of Economy, the stores in MLC were opened with the intention of replacing the parallel market created by individuals who bought abroad and then sold at prices more affordable than those of the State.
During his speech, Gil Fernández reiterated that these establishments would not go further. “It is not conceivable that in the future we will be expanding and increasing the stores in MLC,” he pointed out in October of last year.
As the minister explained, the stores that sell in foreign currency allowed “to capture foreign currency that was leaving the country; It allows the markets to be replenished with these resources and to drain a part of those resources to supply the stores in CUC and the national industry ”. One year after the announcement of this provisional foreign exchange policy, MLC stores have been increasing their presence on the island and are practically the only stores where Cubans can find essential products at very high prices.
For Cubans, living with the stores in MLC has not been easy, as their products are unattainable for the vast majority of the population, especially for those who do not have someone to deposit euros, dollars or pounds sterling from abroad: only one in four Cubans has a family abroad.
Hence the unpopularity of this type of business that many citizens ask to disappear because it undermines the dignity of working people and encourages inequality. And hence also that, during the 11J protests, some of these premises were vandalized by protesters.
In mid-July 2020, the Cuban ruler Miguel Diaz-Canel announced that The opening of 72 stores for the sale in dollars of food and hygiene products was planned. However, since its announcement, the Cuban authorities have done nothing more than increase the network of stores that collect foreign currency, to the detriment of stores in Cuban pesos.
“This is the number 72 that Díaz-Canel said that they were going to open throughout the country. Hahaha … 72 are going to be left in Cup across the country for all the starving people who can’t buy at MLC. And the resellers buying everything to further impoverish the ordinary Cuban ”, commented a Facebook user about the opening of the El Primor de Zulueta store.
“Is seriously? And they keep opening stores in MLC. Why? Let’s see, I wonder, who answers me? Because I am a nurse and my husband is a firefighter and, as far as I know, neither of us are paid in that currency, and we work for this country. Will someone explain to me? I can’t handle this anymore! ”Said another.
“How awful! And when do they do a report with the queue that sleeps outside, waiting for that store to open? “And what about the one who works? The mortals’ tent, by when? ”. “They are dogs. The town does not charge in MLC. Put all that in the currency you pay, in the Cuban currency! Starting from HP and sing… what they are ”.