Just one day before President Obama announced sweeping changes that would allow potential American investment in Cuba, the Cuban government apparently had begun preparing itself by announcing new measures that would allow Cubans who work for foreign companies to keep only 8% of their salaries.
In an official announcement in state newspaper Granma, government officials announced a system in which employees who work for corporations with foreign capital will be paid two Cuban Pesos for every Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) the corporation actually pays them. The Convertible Peso (CUP) is almost exclusively for the use of tourists and is of significantly greater value; one CUC is the equivalent of an American dollar and the equivalent of 26.5 CUPs. The other 24 CUPs Cuban workers will not receive amount to 92% of their salaries.
The payment will now be agreed to with businesses possessing foreign capital taking into consideration the salaries issued to workers in jobs of similar complexity in entities in the same area or sector of our geographic area, the salary scale that is applied in the country (as a reference point) and some additional payments for the corresponding law.
In other words, even if a foreign company has the means to pay more than a Cuban company, the worker will receive the same salary as if he were working for a Cuban company, and the government will pocket the rest.
The Havana Times, an online publication dedicated to issues related to Cuba, notes that Zamira Marín Triana, vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, described the new laws as offering a “significant increase” for workers.
In addition to the 92% of salaries being pocketed by the Cuban government, Cuban government employment offices will charge 20% of the salary of each worker they connect to the corporation for the service of finding said corporation employees. Employees will also lose 9.09% of their salaries for “vacation time.”
The new measures, though enacted hours before the release of USAID worker Alan Gross and President Obama’s announcement of new trade measures, should inspire caution in American companies that would like to do work on the island. American companies would be keeping very little of the money they invest and earn in business on the island, while lining the pockets of the communist government. As Raúl Castro noted in his speech, the Cuban government made no concessions in this recent negotiation with the United States, save the freedom of Gross and one other American agent whom President Obama did not name, which leaves it open to sanctioning American companies who dare attempt to do business on the island as they see fit.