The Absurd Ten Percent / Fernando Dámaso
Fernando Damaso, 9 October 2016 — in any restaurant and some cafes in
Havana, be they state-run or private, “10% is added for services,”
according to a little notice in Spanish and English in fine print on the
menu. That is, the prices of the menu items are false, because the final
cost is 10% more than what they say. This monster, widespread, is a real
Why does that exist here, when it isn’t present in any other country and
is a source of wonder and concern for us and for those who visit us.
During the Republic it never existed. If you were satisfied with the
offerings and satisfied with the service, you voluntarily left a tip, as
a bonus to the person who served you and sometimes, even for the cook
This is the current practice throughout the world.
The monstrosity arose after 1959, when the “intelligent” and preoccupied
Minister of Internal Trade by the name of Luzardo, understood that the
tip was on offense to the food worker who received it, because under
socialism it was his duty to provide good service to his “brother
workers,” without any type of compensation above his salary, and decided
to abolish it.
In the face of the protests of food service workers, because at that
time they received more in tips than in fixed salary, like Solomon they
established a 10% obligatory charge on top of the food, which was shared
equally by everyone in the establishment. The result could not have been
worse: poor quality food, and worse service, turning customers into
The state monster, with the reappearance of private establishments,
mechanically transferred the patter to them and today it is widespread,
with the aggravating circumstances that, the server, who brings the
bill, already loaded with its 10% tip, smilingly waits for his or her
So far, very few state administrators and private business owners have
had the courage to eliminate it, preferring to maintain this absurd and
unjust source of extra earnings and an expense to their customer’s wallets.
I, at least, when I go to a restaurant or cafe where it is applied, do
not leave an additional tip, because I think they are already charging
me, independent of the food and service, although they look at me
strangely and consider me stingy. To one, the other!
Source: The Absurd Ten Percent / Fernando Dámaso – Translating Cuba –