Back to top

Poverty Decreasing Around the World, But Rising in Cuba

'It would be interesting to see how many Cubans on the island know that, since the liberal capitalist globalization process was initiated in 1980, global poverty has actually declined more than ever before in the history of mankind.'

Los Ángeles
Raúl Castro and, in the background, Fidel Castro’s grave. 
Raúl Castro and, in the background, Fidel Castro’s grave.  AFP

'It would be interesting to see how many Cubans on the island know that, since the liberal capitalist globalisation process was initiated in 1980, global poverty has actually declined more than ever before in the history of mankind.' This is exactly the opposite of what Granma, Juventud Rebelde, Cubadebate, and all Castroist state television, radio and media say.

And they are even less likely to know that the minimum wage in Cuba today is a quarter of that in Haiti, and that the average salary is also much lower than in said country. If someone in El Vedado were told this they would dismiss it as a joke, a jesting jab at the regime.

But it's not. In June 2019 in Cuba the minimum wage was increased to $16.60 per month (400 Cuban pesos), while in Haiti it is $65 per month (6,539 gourdes, in March 2019) according to Le Moniteur Journal Officiel de la Republique d'Haiti.  The average Cuban salary, meanwhile, is $44 per month. In Haiti, it is almost double that.

In "neoliberal" Chile, the minimum wage is $423, and in other countries racked by violent anti-capitalist protests, supported by Havana, the minimum wages are $394, in Ecuador; $279, in Peru; and $265 in Colombia. In poor countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador, they are 122 and 203 dollars, respectively. These are all official statistics.

To think that 61 years ago Cuba was among the countries with the highest salaries in the world. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 1958 Cuban industrial workers earned six dollars a day (in eight hours). That was the eighth highest salary on the planet, behind the US (16.80), Canada (11.73), Sweden (8.10), Switzerland (8.00), New Zealand (6.72), Denmark (6.46), and Norway (6.10).

That is, the Cuban worker six decades ago earned $130 a month, equivalent to $1,150 today. With the bourgeoisie he earned 26 times more than now, after being "liberated" by Castro's revolution.  

While poverty on the planet is waning, in Cuba it is increasing. Oxford University (Great Britain) revealed in a study that since the 90s every day some 138,000 people have emerged from poverty in the world. And, according to the World Bank, in 1980 44% of people lived in absolute poverty. In 2015 the figure had dropped to 10%.

Since 1980, the most encouraging data in history regarding reductions in poverty are being recorded. According to the World Bank, between 1990 and 2015 a total of 1.114 billion escaped extreme poverty. In 1990 the figure was 1.85 billion people who lived with less than $1.90 dollars a day, and by 2015 it was down to 736 million.

The Norwegian sociologist Johan Norberg, in his book Progress, explains that the progress that humanity has experienced in recent decades is unprecedented. In 1820, 200 years ago, 94% of the world's population was poor. Today that figure is 9.6%.  These statistics coincide with the development of capitalism and have no parallels in previous centuries, as levels of poverty barely varied for millennia.

Never before has poverty dropped as much as in the last 40 years. And, all this despite the fact that during these four decades the world's population increased by over 3.3 billion people, according to the UN.

However, the sheer number of very poor people in the world remains very high, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia and Nigeria have a combined population of 316 million people, the vast majority of them poor. Bangladesh and Pakistan, meanwhile, together have 420 million inhabitants. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there are fewer and fewer people living in extreme poverty.

There is no greater exploitation than the Marxists'

The regime's propagandists argue that the World Bank's rule of $1.90 per day to identify extreme poverty cannot be applied to Cuba because workers receive benefits from the State in the form of free (or almost) housing, some foods, through the libreta (rationing card), education, and medical care. False. These are all paid for by the workers themselves.

There is nothing in the modern world that impoverishes a worker more than socialism. The State, by paying extremely low salaries, confiscates workers from much of the value they create to meet their own needs and those of their families.

In accordance with Marx's Capital , the Castroist state takes not only the surplus value created by workers in their "additional work time," but also much of the value created through "socially necessary work" in which the worker generates value to support himself and his family, which he must be compensated for, in full, in the form of a salary. Economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago has estimated that the nominal average salary in the Cuban state sector, adjusted for inflation, in 2015 was 62% below that of 1989. That is, the Cuban worker has seen his salary slashed by almost two thirds.

And today it must be even lower. With the shortage caused by the crisis, prices rise and money "doesn't go as far".

Today the real salary (purchasing power) of Cubans is probably a quarter or a fifth of what it was 30 years ago, which is a trend unique on the planet. The salary increases decreed in July 2019 are devoured, daily, by inflation.

One in three "workers" is unemployed

A scourge that aggravates poverty in Cuba is unemployment. The regime's statistics are always disingenuous, but when it comes to unemployment, they are downright outrageous. On April 24, 2019, the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Margarita González, said, with a straight face, that the unemployment rate in Cuba was 1.7%, a figure that would entail full employment, and mean that Cuba enjoys an unemployment rate lower than that of the Czech Republic (1.9%), Japan (2.2%), Switzerland (2.6%), Germany (3.1%), Hungary (3.4%), United States (3.6%), and Norway and South Korea, with 3.7%, these being the lowest in the world in 2019.

But, as they say, when telling lies, or eating fish, one must be very careful. According to statistics published in dispersed form by different official media, in June of 2018 there were 6.2 million Cubans of working age in Cuba, and 1.7 million of them were not working or studying. This means a technical unemployment rate of 27%. Today, with the worsening economic crisis, it might exceed 30%, and may even be at 33%.

It suffices to look at recent images from the Island. In the middle of the day parks and streets are full of men and women of working age shooting the breeze. They have no jobs and must live by their wits, by hook or by crook, just to survive. A protest of unemployed people in Cuba would be more impressive than anything else.

A dramatic aspect poverty in the country is that of its retired and homeless. With pensions equivalent to 12 dollars a month on average, more and more people live in absolute penury. Almost ragged, gaunt from hunger, they sell anything they can on the streets, rummage in garbage cans, and beg.

Castroism destroyed an economy that, before 1959, was one of the strongest in Latin America, with a per capita income that doubled that of Spain. Now, with the ship taking on water, due to the unfeasibility of socialism, and the crisis in Venezuela, Raúl Castro continues to refuse to liberate its productive forces.

Meanwhile, of course, he and his family, and the "revolutionary" high command, live like kings, without producing the riches they enjoy, but rather expropriating them from the increasingly impoverished Cuban people.

Sin comentarios

Necesita crear una cuenta de usuario o iniciar sesión para comentar.