The Story of the Wage Increases / Fernando Damaso
Posted on November 7, 2015
Fernando Damaso, 6 November 2015 — Currently the minimum wage in Cuba is
225 Cuban pesos a month, which is the equivalent of about $10 US. In
1958 it was 85 pesos, equivalent to $85 US. If we compare both minimum
wages, the current wage has dropped 75 dollars relative to 1985. The
equivalent of 85 dollars is 2,040 current pesos, so Cubans, as a minimum
wage, receive 1,815 pesos less (2,040-225=1,815) than before.
But the problem doesn’t end there: what we can buy today with the Cuban
peso is infinitely less than what we could buy before. Let’s look at
some examples: a can of condensed milk cost 20 centavos then; today it
costs 29 pesos. A loaf of bread that cost 10 centavos, today is 10
pesos. A pound of pork was 18 centavos then, today it is 40 pesos. A
pair of shoes was 8 pesos, today it is no less than 400. A pair of pants
then was 7 pesos, and today 300. The list could go on forever.
So it is ironic, when in a report in some of the government media, an
old worker remembers when he only earned 100 pesos a month during the
Republican era, and today he considers himself favored because he earns
1,500. He doesn’t realize that to earn the equivalent today of what he
earned then, he would have to receive 2,400 Cuban pesos. And that
earning 1,500 pesos is receiving 900 less than before. And this without
considering the low purchasing power of the Cuban peso explained above,
due to the price increases on products.
To increase salaries with a devalued money doesn’t resolve the problem:
it is nothing more than a false image of a quantitative improvement that
does not improve the quality of life for our citizens. The increases
realized in the salaries of doctors and athletes are a part of them:
they represent the minimum salary of 1958.
Someone could argue that education and health care are free and make up
for the differences. In reality those services are excessively paid for
with what each citizen, over his entire working life, doesn’t receive
In addition, we cannot forget that in 1958 there were public healthcare
and education, supported by the State, to which all citizens had access.
This, without mentioning that there were also private healthcare and
education, that cost between 2.85 and 5 pesos a month for the health
care, and between 2.50, 5 and 10 pesos for education, for those people
who wanted to utilize them and whose personal economic resources allowed
Source: The Story of the Wage Increases / Fernando Damaso | Translating