EVERYDAY LIFE IN CUBA A CHALLENGE FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT CUBA • Population of 11.2 million • Marxist-Socialist • $6500 GDP per capita • Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania • Median age 40.4 years • Life expectancy 78.4 years • 2nd in the world for education expenditures • 5% have access to the open internet • One of two countries in the world where you can’t legally buy a Coke CAR POOL OF CLASSIC PRE-REVOLUTION VEHICLES OLD HAVANA THE GOVERNMENT PRINTS TWO CURRENCIES, ONE FOR THE CITIZENS AND ONE FOR TOURISTS FIRST CURVES FRANCHISE OPENS IN CUBA TOBACCO FARMERS MIGRATION OF CRABS EVERY MAY FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA MOUNTAIN LAKE IN SOUTHEAST CUBA VARADERO BEACH SUGARCANE WORKER THE MALECON STRETCHES FOR 5 MILES ALONG THE COAST IN HAVANA TOURISTS GAWKING AT A LOCAL POTTER IN 1997,THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT ALLOWED CUBANS TO RENT OUT ROOMS TO TOURISTS, SIMILAR TO A B&B A WOMAN RECEIVES HER DAILY RATION OF BREAD A MAN DISPLAYS HIS “LIBRETA” OR RATION BOOKLET A DAY IN THE CUBAN LIFE SUPPLIES BOOKLET OR RATIONS BOOKLET? • The ration system in Cuba refers to a food distribution system known as the Libreta. • Cubans are entitled to a basic ration of groceries (rice, beans, coffee...)which they can buy at their local bodega (shop) at subsidized prices. • Introduced in 1962 by Che Guevara at that time Minister of Economy R AT I O N E D PRODUCTS FOR H AVA N A ( M O N T H ) Chicken: one pound for consumers over 14 and also for those persons under doctor’s prescription Ground Beef: one pound for children between 0 and 13 years Mortadela (Italian Bologna): a half pound for all consumers Eggs: 5 per consumer and for those under doctor´s prescription Chicken or Fish: 11 ounces per consumer. Likewise, 6 lbs. of frozen fish with heads and tail for those with medical prescriptions. Rice: 7 lbs. per person 1980S: PATERNALISTIC U.S.S.R. • Soviet Union was subsidizing the Cuban economy to the tune of $4-6 billion a year. • The ration was enough to last all month and guaranteed everyone a decent diet. It included rice, beans, lentils, milk, coffee, weekly portions of chicken and hamburger meat, occasional fish and pork. “EL TIEMPO DE LOS FLACOS” • Right after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba’s ability to import food dropped by 75% • Rations fell by half, the average Cuban lost 20 pounds, and persistent hunger— something not seen since before the revolution—became a daily reality. THE OPTIONS HAVE RUN OUT • The Cuban economy had improved considerably since then, thanks in part to the rise in tourism dollars and to Venezuela’s subsidized oil. • The food rations last only about 10 days out of every month. • Cubans must buy in markets where prices are much higher • The Venezuelan economy has collapsed RAUL CASTRO SAYS: NO MORE LIBRETA • Cubans pay less than $2 for their monthly rations, which is an estimated 12 percent of the food’s real value • The average official salary stands at less than $20/month • Retirees fixed incomes average between $12-$14/month • Cuba’s guaranteed food basket and free healthcare, the poor island nation has one of the lowest infant mortality rates and highest life expectancy rates in the world. TWO-TIERED SOCIETY • Cuba imports close to 80% of the food it consumes, costing $1.5 billion • The best food is reserved for tourists. • Cubans who work in the tourist sector or receive remittances can afford market prices and supplement their diets with restaurant meals. • Schools don’t allow students to bring their lunches from home to suggest equality THERE’S NO I N C E N T I V E TO FA R M Cuba has miles and miles of fertile, lush countryside where nothing is growing or grazing. The government is giving out free 10-year leases on state-owned land to anyone willing to take a crack at farming. The island harvested fewer than 6,000 tons of coffee last year, down from 60,000 tons a half-century ago, forcing the government to spend $40 million on imported beans. THERE'S AN OLD JOKE IN CUBA T H AT I F E D U C AT I O N , H E A LT H CARE AND ATHLETICS ARE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION'S GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS, THEN ITS THREE BIGGEST FAILINGS ARE B R E A K F A S T, L U N C H A N D D I N N E R .