Monday, June 13, 2011

Translation: Granma letters to the editor

Translation: Marce Cameron

Readers and journalists

By J. Carreras Perez-Teran, May 27, 2011

I've been an avid reader of the letters section from the beginning [early 2008] and on several occasions I've written letters myself. Though my letters have never been selected for publication, I hope my proposals are considered in one way or another, I imagine it's not possible to publish every letter.

This time I'm writing to express my thoughts on the letters sent by other readers, specifically those published on May 20, 2011. These letters that contribute much to the defence of the conquests of socialism in Cuba, the struggle against bureaucracy and the evasive responses of some functionaries, denunciations of misdeeds, appeals for job creation [by further easing restrictions on self-employment — translator's note] and the substitution of imports, defending our culture and national identity. Most importantly they get to the point, they are concrete, without tedious and theoretical discourse. These letters reach the brain and the heart with the messages they contain.

It's noteworthy that the majority of the commentaries and news relating to Cuba that are published daily in Cuba are very far from being attractive and convincing to the readers. Many reflect a triumphal spirit that "everything's fine" and "the goals have been achieved". Few delve deeper into the causes of the problems and get to the heart of the matter.

Personally, I prefer to read the letters than the rest of the articles on national themes. And I ask myself: what is going on with our journalists? Can it be possible that the readers are better than the journalists when it comes to reflecting the national reality in the press? Don't they live in Cuba like the rest of us Cubans? Don't they suffer the same problems? Do they not have the same difficulties? Is there some kind of verbal or written "norm" that prevents journalists from publishing articles of the quality of the letters of readers?

It's time to make reality everything that has been said about the need for our press to change and move with the times, so that the articles of the journalists are as good as or better than the letters of readers.

* * *
Resellers are not self-employed workers

By S. I. Chavez Domínguez, May 20, 2011

I view as very positive and necessary the decision to allow self-employment within the framework of our socialist legality, since this is a source of income and legal employment that responds to the problems Cubans face that for various reasons the state cannot resolve.

In my opinion self-employment licenses must be granted to those who are capable of providing a service or product through their labour or their technical-professional expertise, or to those people who having obtained raw materials or a finished product are able to add value to increase its use value, for example someone who buys eggs and sells tortillas, someone who buys powdered cordial, adds sugar and ice then sells the drink, to which could be added an endless list of cases in which I consider it correct to grant a self-employment license.

What I don't understand is this: often I see people in the street with self-employment licenses that don't provide any kind of service to workers, on the contrary what they do is make the economic situation much more difficult for us, since these are people who create nothing nor do they provide any service or add value to any product, but are simply resellers and the only thing they add is price — and excessively — to the same products sold by the state in the network of [convertible peso] stores.

Why one must obtain a self-employment license to sell steel wool pads, pens, torch batteries, glasses, TV antennas, cigars, matches, stockings, drill bits, sandpaper, fluorescent tubes, energy saving light globes and a host of other products that would make an endless list, when the state sells these items in its chain of stores but at a much lower price than asked by these resellers who, I repeat, do not add any value but simply add to the price which we who live on our salaries must pay?

For example: the state sells a packet of four steel wool pads for 1 convertible peso (CUC), which are quickly bought up and hoarded by these self-employed people who later sell them for 10, 12 and up to 14 regular pesos each [1 CUC = 24 regular pesos], or on occasion at up to double the official price. I've seen packets of eight 1.5 volt batteries for 1 CUC, then later on I've needed two little batteries and have had to pay 10 regular pesos each. Examples abound.

These are not self-employed workers, they are unscrupulous resellers and stranglers of the economy of those who work. They take advantage of a license they've been given, with which they feel as if they have every right in the world to rip us off.

I don't believe this was the intention of our state in offering this new possibility, which if done properly will surely be another success of our Revolution.

1 comment:

  1. The latter letter makes a good point. But the problem addressed here is the problem of the two currencies, the Cuban peso (available to all) and the CUC, the convertible currency pegged to the US dollar, which has limited circulation in Cuba. As the letter writer says, the reseller purchases a product in CUCs (1 CUC = 24 Cuban pesos), then resells the product at, say, 30 Cuban pesos to 1 CUC, making a "profit" of 6 Cuban pesos. This is definitely not productive labor.

    An important objective of the current reform is to phase out the use of CUCs altogether. The sooner this happens, the better.

    Richard Fidler,


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