Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Foreign Investors in Cuba Are Paid With Meal Vouchers

Every night in the cabaret of a luxury hotel a European businessman goes
from table to table making an unusual request. He approaches the guests
and asks that when their bill comes, they let him pay it with the
colored vouchers that he has in his pocket. In exchange, they will give
him the amount in convertible pesos, which he can then turn into dollars
or Euros which he can take far away. This man is a victim of the
financial Corralito* that prevents many foreign investors from taking
their earnings out of the country. So that they don't utterly despair,
the Cuban authorities allow them to consume the length and breadth of
the Island, paying with pieces of paper lacking any real worth.

Today the frozen funds drama touches many businessmen who, after the
1995 passage of the Foreign Investment Law, were ready to invest in our
economy. They enjoyed the privilege of running a company, completely
forbidden to those of us born here. They came to be a new business class
in a country where the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968 had confiscated
even the chairs of the shoeshine boys. The huge profits they were
managing to extract turned them into very attractive targets for the
hustlers, rental house landlords, and members of State Security. Many of
them were seen in the most expensive restaurants, choosing appetizing
dishes while accompanied by very young women. Others, the minority, gave
additional gifts to their employees to compensate them for their low
salaries in Cuban pesos paid by the State, through which the foreign
companies contracted for their labor.

These representatives of a "corporate scouting party" were prepared to
lose a little capital provided they could–starting now–be established
in a place that one day would be like a pie cut into slices. However,
those on the Island who signed contracts and drank the champagne with
them, after an agreement, considered them just a necessary and
provisional evil, a diversion that would be eradicated as soon as the
Special Period ended. After all the guarantees promised a few months
ago, they have learned that the coffers are empty, while hearing the
repeated, "we cannot pay you." Suddenly, these businessmen have begun to
feel the impotence and the scream–half stuck in the throat–that we
Cubans are burdened with every day. Still, they are so much less
unprotected than we are, against the depredation of the State; a
passport from another place allows them to get on a plane and forget

Translator's note: El Corralito was the common name given to the
Argentine government's freezing of bank accounts, and most strictly U.S.
dollar deposits, between December 2001 and December 2002, when the
nation was in a financial crisis. The word comes from the word "corral"
which has the same meaning in Spanish and English.

Yoani Sanchez: Foreign Investors in Cuba Are Paid With Meal Vouchers (23
January 2010)

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