This week we are going to talk about the issue of US dollar stores opening up in Cuba. One is the new store at the Carlos III shopping mall, another is at 5th and 42nd streets.
We know that only a limited sector of the Cuban population can shop at these stores. Cubans who receive remittances or manage to get a hold of foreign currency (MLC) by other means on the island. Meanwhile, huge lines at Cuban currency stores are a sign that basic essentials and high demand items are in shortage.
The Government says these dollar stores are just a temporary measure to attract foreign currency. However, new stores continue to open, while the CUC seems to be living its dying days (without a date yet).
Making matters more complicated, the US government has recently announced that new restrictions will be imposed. These could stop remittances from being sent via Western Union, an important channel for sending foreign currency to the country.
One thing that’s certain, we Cubans will live with more than one currency, even after the CUC disappears. The regular peso (CUP) and the US Dollar. Quality essentials will continue to be sold in a currency different from the one that most Cubans earn. Likewise, it’s the enemy’s currency!
MLC (foreign currency) is what the Cuban government uses to say US Dollars without saying it.