To start with, there is a double system of payment and prices. There’s a system for the Cubans in Peso Nacional, they are paid in Peso Nacional (or Peso Cubano) and they can buy in peso shops for Cubans. Tourists pay for everything in Peso Convertibles (CUC) and only buy in the so-called dollar shops.
Let’s have a closer look at the daily life in Havana :
The average Cuban salary is about 350-400 Peso Nacional. One Peso Convertible CUC equals 1 USA dollar or 24 Peso Nacional. Some people work for less in shops or museums. There are dentists earning as little as 12 dollars a month. A taxi driver can make more money than a doctor. The pension is between 6 to 8 dollar per month. Among the best paid are the Police, approx. 2500-3000 Peso Nacional (= 150$ per month)
Of course this not the whole story, to make an estimate about the cost of the life in Havana you have to take in account the cost of housing, electricity, water, and these costs are in Cuba very low.
Secondly there are the social benefits, with the ration booklet (the libreta) each Cuban family get a basic ration of staples such as rice, beans, cooking oil, salt, sugar and bread. They also get the following in limited quantities: 1 piece of soap, 1 toothbrush, and 1 tube of toothpaste. Milk is only available for mothers with children below the age of six.
For many families this ration is only sufficient for +/- 20 days so additional food must be bought. However nobody dies of food shortage, but for a lot of Cubans meat or chicken is a luxury. For elderly people and single mothers the life in the city can be hard and they have to struggle to meet ends.
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