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Cuba: That Hard Place between Trump and Cuban Capitalism

When her husband was still alive, they were fortunate and made nearly 200 CUC per month. He used to earn almost 33 CUC as an Electrical Engineer in the public sector, between wages and bonuses, which depended on him attending union assemblies, keeping night watch 4 or 5 times a year and taking part in political activities such as the May Day parade. He earned the rest by fixing home appliances on the side.

With that kind of income, she could stay at home and dedicate herself to raising their two children and caring for her elderly mother.

In 2012, her husband caught hemorrhagic Dengue fever. He was admitted into the La Covadonga hospital for 6 days where he stayed in a room with an absolutely minimal level of hygiene. While recovering, he asked to go home because that “was a pigsty that he couldn’t bear”, but his condition took a turn for the worse at home and he had to return, he didn’t ever recover.

She was left alone with a 16-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old son, her 74-year-old mother and a pension of 14 CUC per month which wasn’t even enough for her to pay the electricity bill. For the first time in her life, she had to go out and look for work so she turned to the only sector that was somewhat dynamic: the small private sector.

She was a waitress at a cafe working alternate days, she started her day by cleaning the place in the morning and getting it ready so she could then wait on customers until 10 PM when they closed and counted tips. Even though she was paid very well, 5 CUC per day of work plus tips, lunch and a snack, she had to leave it because the hours were impossible for her.

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