Cuba Takes Steps to Eliminate its Tourist-Only Currency
A man waits for customers at his private shop, at the entrance of his home in Havana. Two currency systems create two classes of merchants and shoppers. Desmond Boyland / Reuters
The two systems are a source of corruption and a sharp class distinction between the haves and have nots — both things that the dual currency was meant to prevent. Moving to a simpler system will only hurt the few who are profiting.
Cuba’s government says it’s starting to eliminate its unique two-currency system, but it’s revealing no details about the pace or scale of the change.
President Raul Castro said this year that the communist government must scrap the system, in which the vital tourism sector uses a currency fixed at a rate roughly equivalent to the dollar. The rest of Cuba uses pesos worth about 5 cents each that cannot be directly converted into foreign currencies.
It’s meant to insulate and protect Cuba’s communist system. But because many unsubsidized goods can only be bought in the stronger convertible peso, it has created a class of more prosperous Cubans, those with access to the tourist currency.
The official publication Granma said the government would roll out the measure in stages.
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