“This Job Is Not To Make Money”/ 14ymedio
14ymedio, Havana, 9 March 2017 – The Cuban state has begun a gradual
process of privatizing the sale of the official press in kiosks. Without
announcing the measure in the official media, the kiosks operated by the
“self-employed” have recently been authorized to engage in this activity
under a “postal agent” license (which is among the 201 private
occupations legalized in 2013), as reported by 14ymedio in an extensive
article by Miriam Celaya this Thursday.
“We have five kiosks, but they are already occupied by self-employed
workers,” says an employee at the Post Office located at 26th Street in
Havana. The worker explains that “an interested party should locate a
kiosk where they want to work and request it… Once hired, the kiosk
operator should come and get the press here before eight in the
morning,” she adds.
“For every newspaper I sell I earn 10 centavos in Cuban pesos (CUP) (a
fraction of a cent US) and if it’s the Orbe I earn 20 centavos,”
explains a kiosk operator on 26th and 41st streets. “The problem is that
almost all the other publications are not available,” he complains.
“Bohemia has not arrived, there is no Palante or Muchacha,” he says in
relation to several missing publications.
“I get between 150 and 200 daily newspapers so I don’t earn much,”
explains the self-employed operator. “This job is not to make money,” he
said. The three-day course that entrepreneurs must take to occupy one of
these places is “a routine thing,” he says. “Almost everything they told
us was to show us where to get the papers and the details of the prices.”
The self-employed woman at the Tulipan and Loma street kiosk supplies
“many teachers, because they are required to have the paper but it’s not
given to them.” She complains about the low profits due to the “lateness
of the press.” For her, it’s important “that the publications come on
time, but by the time most of them arrive they are already old news.”
The woman has to go to a nearby post office to get the dailies and says,
“I have to transport them myself, because most of those engaged in this
work are elderly* and they can’t carry very much.”
For each copy of Granma, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores, the kiosk
operators pay 19 centavos for a paper that sells at retail for 20
centavos (roughly one cent US). According to a calculation made
by 14ymedio of the number of copies received each day or, when
applicable, each week (181 Granma, 116 Juventud Rebelde, 199 Tribuna,
169 Trabajadores, in addition to the magazines: 27 Orbe and 41 Bohemia),
the kiosk operators would earn about five Cuban pesos a month, if all
their papers and magazines sold at the stated prices.
However, the private operators have to pay a monthly fee of 10 Cuban
pesos for the license and the same for the use of the kiosk. Once these
expenses are deducted, it is clear that the kiosk operators pay the
state to sell the official press, not the reverse as would be normal.
The self-employed are able to assume these expenses because they
commonly collect more for each copy sold – in general buyers will offer
one Cuban peso instead of 20 centavos** – but that is entirely up to the
willingness of the buyers.
*It is common for the elderly to informally buy a stack of papers and
then walk around reselling them – providing a convenience for customers
by making the papers available everywhere. They earn a little money
because the customers willingly “overpay” for the papers, in exchange
for the convenience and as a way to help out old people with very meager
**In this example the entrepreneur would earn a “profit” of about 3-4
cents US on each paper sold.
Source: “This Job Is Not To Make Money”/ 14ymedio – Translating Cuba –