21 December 2009
Cuba set to abolish the social wage
The people of Cuba enjoy a social wage that seems set to disappear if Raul Castro has his way. Workers at enterprises across the country enjoy a free lunch and the ration card ensures that people can buy the basics at heavily subsidised prices. Now the government is phasing out the lunches and giving the workers a 15 peso stipend to make up for the loss of the meal. The point is that the money is enough to buy a slice of pizza or a plate of beans and rice, but a snack like that will not fill the stomach in the way that the old work supplied meal did.
To make matters even worse the ration card that literally keeps many Cubans alive also looks set to vanish. Until the collapse of the USSR most Cubans didn't use the ration card for very much since the shops always had enough produce and at prices that the working man could afford. With the betrayal of Cuba that came about in 1989 and the tightening of the American blockade the ration book became a lifesaver for many. If it is abolished then food prices will probably rise to market levels, and when that happens the population will start to go hungry.
The government really need to rethink these policies as when people are hungry they are at their most dangerous. The future of the Cuban system is quite literally at stake.