Since the end of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Cubans have been forced to live in poverty. While tourists have been able to enjoy the Caribbean island as of late, Cubans have had an extremely difficult time putting food on their table. Raul Castro has stated that tourism is one of the largest sources of income, and it’s only growing.
To take advantage of the increase in tourism, Cuba has decided to open its first luxury mall. I ask those who praise Cuba as a great paradise, such as Justin Trudeau, Danny Glover, Francis Coppola, the President of India, and many others, to reread that last sentence. How can a country be so great if they haven’t had a shopping mall since 1959? Nearly all retail stores and existing plazas in Cuba are owned by the state, which can cause high prices and lack of essential supplies. Needless to say if there is a Cuban entrepreneur that wants to sell his own products, he must do so at a lower price then the state per Cuban regulation.
There are many people who are exceptionally excited to see Cuba’s growth and eager to shop in this new mall. Yet, true human rights activists will not be bought off, and we will not invest a penny in Cuba until there is significant change. Having said that, the only people who will be investing in these new luxuries are naïve tourists, not Cubans.
Cuban’s earnings currently average $25 per month according to Cuba’s National Office of Statistics. However, considering the control of state media and the importance of projecting a positive message in a dictatorship, it is certainly lower than this. Cubans make less than 11 cents per hour. If Cubans were to go to the mall to buy a t-shirt that is on sale, they could find themselves wasting their entire month’s income on one t-shirt! Simply stated, the only Cubans at the mall will be the employees who are averaging $12.50 a month.
So despite the fact that Cubans are starving, in need of urgent medical attention, and living in buildings that are collapsing every day, it is clear that the government’s primary objectives are to grow tourism and brand Cuba as a communist utopia.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author.
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