Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Elderly Cubans, Between Misery and Neglect / Leonardo Calvo Cardenas
Posted on October 15, 2013

LA HABANA, Cuba, October, – The authorities have assured
us that the aging of the population and the declining birth rate makes
us the equal of the developed countries. What cynicism! The latest
Population and Housing Census only demonstrates the profound
socioeconomic crisis has converted the existence of every Cuban into a
difficult ordeal.

The collapse of the totalitarian statist model, the low purchasing
power, the high cost of living and the housing crisis, dissuade young
couples from having children.

There are many young people who refrain from starting a family because
they put all their hopes in leaving the country. In finding, abroad, the
personal realization that is closed to them in Cuba.

There are more than two million compatriots scattered throughout the world.

But the hardest hit by our crisis, are the elderly. The weakness of the
Cuban economy can not guarantee quality of life for our old people, who
after working for decades, suffer poverty level pensions and the lack of
social protections.

Our Elderly

It’s shocking to see our elderly and disables thrown into the informal
economy, or begging, while the top leadership doesn’t change its
discourse of being the paternalistic supreme benefactor.

The frustration comes through in every testimony: Arturo Ponciano, 79,
retired from construction thirteen years ago. Speaking haltingly he
wonders when he will be able to relax if not in his grave. “So much hard
work, so many shocking works, internationalist missions, to have to keep
struggling in the street, selling candy, fighting the insatiable
inspectors for the needs of the people.”

Aurora, 71, from Havana, says that she still felt strong when she
retired from the tobacco factory after 38 years of work… “but I couldn’t
take the pressure and the persecution of the bosses to prevent the
stealing of materials, or the aggressive behavior of the young people
(so different from what we were like).” Aurora feels frustrated that
what she earns in retirement isn’t even enough to buy a sweet treat for
her grandchildren.

After calming down from her panic, thinking I was an inspector coming to
fine her or take her money, Nina, 74, said that she is exhausted every
morning after walking miles in the sun as a roaming seller. “If I don’t
do it, I don’t know how I’m going to live. As long as I have the
strength I will keep pushing the cart of candy, popcorn and
“chicharritas” (friend banana chips) that has become so heavy by the

Berta Lina, 69, a retired clerk, says that the government talks a lot
but in reality abandons old people to their fate after working for so
many years, “the police produce nothing, they earn much more than others
and they don’t even pay bus fares, the retired don’t even get a discount
on that.”

“My younger sister has lived in Belgium for many years and people can’t
even imagine the benefits enjoyed by the elderly in that country … And
I, working in private homes, earned in a day more than they pay me in

Manolo, a retired teacher and widower of 81, said that his two children
are very well positioned occupationally and his daughter living in the
United States doesn’t hesitate to help. Manolo says, “My luck doesn’t
keep me from recognizing how hard it is to see so many elderly in
poverty or trying to sell what they can to survive… I came back from my
visit to the United States to see my grandchildren, but they can say
what they want, over there you don’t see any old people in this
lamentable condition.”

Wilfredo, a retired lieutenant colonel, 73, recognizes that, “It is very
hard at the end of the day to accept that this Revolution to which gave
his entire life and his efforts proved to be a lie and a failure… Many
old people who are still suffering the consequences of that failure
refuse to accept the harsh reality.”

There are old people who, at a quick glance, one can see that their poor
physical condition is premature. At this point neither the family nor
the government seems prepared to face the challenges of such a broad
segment of the population entering old age.

Apparently the Cuban authorities are more concerned with the status and
socio-economic needs of their sister ALBA countries than with the fate
of the elderly of the island. For us, an ever growing share of Cubans
are approaching old age that we aren’t prepared for, if there isn’t a
miracle, they will suffer more down the road.

Leonardo Calvo Cardenas –

From Cubanet,14 October 2013

Source: “Elderly Cubans, Between Misery and Neglect / Leonardo Calvo
Cardenas | Translating Cuba” –

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