The crossroads of emigrants to help their families in Cuba

The crossroads of emigrants to help their families in Cuba
The crossroads of emigrants to help their families in Cuba

In the midst of the widespread crisis in Cuba, with delirious inflation rates, shortages of food and basic products, monetary instability and low salaries, emigrants find themselves at the crossroads of deciding how to help their relatives on the island: Send money or food?

The news agency AFP has collected several testimonies from Cubans who agree that sending food through agencies and virtual stores is a relief to make ends meet, and that on the other hand sending dollars through Western Union is discouraging since the company pays the currency at the official exchange rate of 120 pesos per dollar, when on the street the price of the US currency exceeds 300 Cuban pesos.

On the island, which closed 2023 with inflation of 30% and has been rising, the average salary is 4,800 pesos, about 40 dollars at the official exchange rate and about 13 USD at the exchange rate on the black market. With these salaries, Cubans must face the cost of a carton of 30 eggs for 3,300 pesos (27.50 dollars at the official exchange rate), a pound of pork for 600 pesos, and a kilogram of chicken for more than 2,000 pesos.

A Cuban living in Spain explained to CyberCuba that before (until 2019) he only sent money (100 euros per month) to his relatives and with that they could at least buy food.

“But in recent years, at the request of my family because it is difficult for them to find food even with money, I have also had to send food (basic foods such as chicken, eggs, oil, sausages, etc.) and a little money. In short, now I spend about 30-40 euros more so they can eat,” he explained.

Likewise, the Cuban activist Saily González reflected in a video on Instagram that through virtual markets and other controlled mechanisms, and in a chaotic context of inflation and shortages, the regime forces Cubans living abroad, exiles and dissidents, to pay ransom for their relatives kidnapped within the island in the form of recharges, remittances, combos or packages that are sent through their agencies, which will finance the repression within the country.

In recent years the government has set up channels to collect foreign currency from its emigrants. Various virtual stores and even ticket purchases can be made from abroad.

In the last three years more than half a million Cubans have emigrated fleeing the crisis on the island; and their dollars today support the machinery of the regime.

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