Back in Havana for our last few days. Yesterday we paid for a tour of Old Havana but it was worth every peso. We gained much more than just information about the city. Wages in Cuba are between $US 15-25 per month. The goal is to increase this to $US300 per month to provide a comfortable living wage. A bottle of beer costs $US 2 so Cubans prefer rum – ‘more efficient’ apparently.
Workers pay no tax and have a monthly subsidized food entitlement (‘ration book’) (e.g. 7 eggs per person per month). Private entrepreneurs (taxis, casa particulares (Airbnb, restaurants) pay hefty license fees and they pay regardless of how much or little they earn. It’s certainly an incentive to work hard.
There are three levels of shops- the ‘bodega’ which is a small convenience store selling the basic food entitlement, markets and CUCs for alcohol, electronics, cooking oil etc.
Cruise ships are coming in at a rate of 2-3 per week and they want more because they believe it will be good for the economy. The tourism goal was achieved by November this year. The US tourists are already here. Hopefully they can manage this tourism/capitalism without an increase in inequality.