09 April 2007

A Resolver Todo El Mundo

Today’s Sugar-Coated Cuban Fairy Tale is brought to you by the Letters F and U.

According to today’s mandatory fluff:

what was possibly once the most generous pension system in Latin America now struggles to sustain its oldest citizens.

In Cuba the retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men.

Retirees receive a pension of approximately $7 a month. Like everyone else in Cuba, retirees cannot survive on this, so they are forced to find ways of ” resolving” their daily needs.

Every ordinary citizen in Cuba has to struggle to sustain himself, but lets not beat the skeleton of a long dead horse.

An excerpt describing the plight of the retired:

"The poorest, most vulnerable group in Cuban society are pensioners," said economist and University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus Carmelo Mesa-Lago, co-author of the 2004 book Cuba's Aborted Reform.

Now, throughout Havana, retired scientists and teachers dot the streets - driving cabs, hawking newspapers, guarding parked cars for tourists in front of the lush Parque Central.

Those payments were part of what's considered the most generous and costliest ension system in Latin America, Mesa-Lago said.By the end of the 1980s, the plan implemented by Fidel Castro's revolution covered more than 90 percent of the labor force. Most workers don't pay into the system, and state businesses pay only a 12 percent payroll tax toward social security pensions.

(I’d like "economist", Mesa-Lago, to explain the generosity in being taxed at something like 96% of your wages so that the government can provide equal misery for everyone, but like I said , that horse has long since died)

Ironically, the generation of Cubans that just entered retirement age, are the ones who were just starting their work life around the time that Castro came to power in 1959.

These are the folks that were asked (forced) to work, sacrifice and volunteer to build an egalitarian Utopia were everyone’s needs would be met by society. They are now finding out that after all that sacrificing and doing without, they’re being cast aside to fend for themselves.

Get more depressed here

It may very well be that Cuba’s pension system is sooooo broke, that even its own architect, now 80 and recovering form a near fatal state secret illness, may not be able to retire and live in the same lifestyle he has been accustomed to. This octogenarian is now being forced to write op ed. pieces for the very newspaper that he once owned in order to “resolver”.

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