The Cuban government began to sell dollars – with limits

HAVANA (AP) – Cubans lined up by the dozens at exchanges Tuesday for the chance to buy dollars and other hard currencies from the government for the first time in two years.

The new policy, announced Monday night, comes three weeks after the communist government began buying the hard currency from the public at 110.40 pesos to the dollar — an amount similar to the black market and more than four times what is used for official transactions.

Under the new policy, which aims to combat the illegal market in hard currency, individuals can buy up to $100 per day in cash at $123.60 at 37 state-owned CADECA exchange shops.

The official rate used by government industries and agencies that regulate the economy remains 24 pesos to the dollar.

“I want[Euros]so I can buy snacks for my grandchildren,” said Marisela Prado, a 62-year-old civil servant who was among the first at the exchange in central Havana. Jam is one of the many products available at subsidized state stores.

But 32-year-old camera operator Juan Perez is unhappy with the new measure, arguing that the sales limit will increase the value of the dollar on the black market.

In the year By early 2021, Cuba will end its long-standing dual currency system with a uniquely flexible peso aimed primarily at tourism and foreigners, and convert all jobs to the local currency.

But due to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the reduction of aid to Cuba’s ally Venezuela, the cost of the new higher wages received from the reforms has risen much faster. Money sent to Cubans by American relatives

The ever-increasing shortages have pushed up the price of goods purchased from private sellers and driven down the value of the street-level peso, making the dollar and other hard currencies worth exporting or importing. This led to long lines and increased public frustration.

The lower, fixed official rate prevents people from exchanging money through the government, losing a stronger currency and the ability to import essential goods.

Cubans can use special hard currency debit cards to buy goods at special state stores, and many need dollars or euros to travel abroad – sometimes buying goods to sell at a profit when they return home.

Officials said Monday that under the new policy, the sale of hard currency will not only be based on $100, but also on how much the local foreign exchange house bought from the public the day before.

At a branch visited by The Associated Press, Kenya Katiuska Mesa, regional CADECA director, told a crowd of customers that 190 people would be allowed to shop there on Tuesday.

Economist Mauricio de Miranda announced on his Facebook page that the new measures are insufficient and partial and instead of leading to a solution to economic problems, they will exacerbate the serious crisis that has lasted for more than three decades.

A Cuba specialist at the University of Javeriana in Cali, Colombia, said, “Without a structural reform, integrated and systematic program, the current internal obstacles hindering the growth of the Cuban economy cannot be overcome.”


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