Maria Aguilar sits in a doorway across the street, where she had to shelter from the relentless August sun, and assures she has one on the waiting list…but tomorrow. That is why he hardly takes his eyes off the exchange (kadeca) in the city of Pinar del Rio, where, at a slow pace, the line of those who have achieved a ticket For the day.
Maria has been trying to get to the office for two days, where the sale of foreign currency to the population began last Tuesday, in the framework of the implementation of the exchange market. However, he was not so lucky for the first two days.
“We came yesterday and didn’t stop. We stayed, and today we are not enough. It is that what came from many people,” he says.
It’s 11:00 a.m. and you already know you won’t be able to buy today, but you don’t go from this gate on Gerardo Medina. “I have to stay because tomorrow I’m the first, and if I leave, I lose my tail,” she explains.
Around him, there are people constantly asking who is the last person in Cadeca, participating, asking how many people they will have and how many shifts they take.
Thus they confirm that the panorama has been preserved, since on Monday the new procedure was announced in the Round Table programme.
‘The flow was huge’
Within Cadica, the capital of Pinar del Rio, where the head office of this financial entity is also located in Vueltapajo, Luis Martinez-Barra, Regional Director, admits that the influx of audience at this first moment “was enormous”.
With the aim of setting up the order, he assures that he, personally, before the start of the service, shows the public the amount of cash available for the day, the details of the operations, and distributes tickets to the customers who will be served.
So far, there have been 50 per day (in other approved Cadeca, in the municipality of Viñales, another 30 people attended), of which about 5,000 US dollars or its equivalent in other currencies were saved at their disposal.
This was the exact figure, taking into account the currency that was registered since last August 4, when the country began buying at a new exchange rate.
“As explained by the Minister of Economy at the Round Table, the source of funding for this activity is the foreign exchange purchases made through the office network,” says Martinez Parra, warning that in order for the amounts offered for sale to be increased, it is necessary to increase the purchases as well. .
However, he acknowledges that at least in these early days there was no equilibrium between the number of customers interested in selling and those aspiring to buy, and that the demand for the latter service was much higher.
“Overall, I consider this new process to be going smoothly, although the turnout of the population has been very high.”
Demand exceeds supply
From one end to the other, this is a fact that is repeated. In Granma, for example, hundreds of people interested in obtaining securely convertible currencies also went to the two branches chosen to provide this service, in the municipalities of Manzanillo and Bayamo.
Julio Tejeda Solano, Cadeca’s regional director, told this newspaper that the early days in both regions passed with a very good influx of customers, whose demand, predictably, exceeded supply.
“In our province, the purchase of freely convertible currencies began on August 4, and from that moment on we created a cash reserve with which we began the limited sale of foreign currency to the population,” said the manager. The main challenges of the new scale are the fact that it is not possible to make a balanced correspondence between the availability of foreign currency in the fund and the number of users visiting the branch in one day.
“We are facing a complex process, because the currency that we enter is not enough to obtain large sums to meet the demand of the population, which is why every day, before the start of operations, we inform customers of the currencies we have in stock and the number of people, in principle, we will be able to provide the service.”
To illustrate, Tejeda Solano explained that on the first day of the sale at the Manzanillo branch only 30 people were able to get foreign currency, while in Bayamo there were 50, while commenting that all customers got the maximum amount allowed for one person. One hundred US dollars (US dollars) or its equivalent in another currency.
The regional director of Cadeca confirmed that they are working with transparency and rigor to avoid violations that may arise from sales operations inside and outside the branches.
“We know it’s a much-needed service and prone to illegal business, so we have the support of the party, the government and the police, until the sale is organized and in line with the amount of money in the fund.”
Kadika is outside the base
But the long queues and delays were not only associated with the availability of cash in Kadika’s vaults.
In Havana, for example, the lack of personnel to carry out the various operations has limited service to the population.
Euclide Hernández Santana, Director of Branch 23 and J, in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, understands that this is a problem related to the reduction of staff during the pandemic and the reduced services provided by Cadeca, following the operation of the monetary system.
“Right now we’re working with only two boxes,” he says.
In the office on Bilasquín Street, in the municipality of Centro Habana, the situation is more complicated, since they have only one fund to serve residents who also come for other issues, such as collecting payments from pensioners or withdrawing sums. Money from magnetic cards.
Harold Cuesta Martiatu, Branch Manager, has an explanation similar to the one he received granma At 23 and J: “With the disappearance of CUC, which was the main operation, income levels fell and we had to lay off many workers.”
In the face of this new boom in activity in Cadeca, the official notes that his branch has a capacity of five cashiers, and that efforts are being made to train new cashiers.
How did this action affect?
Although the new measure, without a doubt, constitutes a step forward in the process of recovery of the Cuban economy, its implementation has led to a debate among Cubans about its benefits and limitations, in the midst of the complex scenario facing the country.
This is how he found it granma This Wednesday at the Cadeca de Las Novedades branch, in Bayamo, where many people have been waiting since the night before for the possibility of buying foreign currency.
Alida Martinez, a 58-year-old from Bayamo, who was there with two other relatives, commented that although the measure is having a very positive effect, by making it possible to obtain foreign currency safely and at a lower rate for residents. The tax imposed by the informal market, its scope is still very limited.
“For those of us who need to purchase electrical appliances in stores in MLC, such as a television or refrigerator, it is difficult for them to stand in line for days, or bring multiple family members to reach the necessary amount of money,” he cautioned.
The same happens with those who intend to use this money to travel outside the country, where they say that with 100 US dollars, it is not enough for them even for a plane ticket.
However, the most disturbing thing is that in the face of a lack of supply, which at first glance seems very far from meeting demand, the new measure ends up benefiting coleros, hoarders and speculators, who resell slots in Cadeca or coins acquired in them, a profitable business that ends up being It is to the detriment of the majority of the population.
In this regard, Daniel Herrera Blanco, a native of Pinar del Rio and does not hide his concern, notes that “the dollar, which only a month ago was worth between 110 and 115 pesos, rose to 140 as a counterattack to the “informal market designed by Country “.
At this price, specifically, it was kept at the end of this release on online selling sites.
However, Elena Benitez, a woman from Bayami agreed on Wednesday morning to give her opinion to granmaconsiders that when it proves that it can be sustainable over time, the measure will help put an end to the abusive and uncontrolled increase in foreign exchange in the informal market, and “Although many details need to be settled, the possibility of buying it from the state is a first step.” good by itself.