Havana, a Potemkin Village in the Caribbean

Almost one year ago I wrote HERE about writer Michael J. Totten’s  ventures into Cuba, and to introduce readers to the two pieces he had written to date on the subject of what he found there.  This past spring, Totten published a third piece at City-Journal, this one entitled “The Last Communist City”.  As usual, his piece is well-written and immensely informative.  Here’s an enticing excerpt:

… In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country.  (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.)  Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.”

Even employees inside the quasi-capitalist bubble don’t get paid more.  The government contracts with Spanish companies such as Meliá International to manage Havana’s hotels. Before accepting its contract, Meliá said that it wanted to pay workers a decent wage.  The Cuban government said fine, so the company pays $8–$10 an hour.  But Meliá doesn’t pay its employees directly.  Instead, the firm gives the compensation to the government, which then pays the workers—but only after pocketing most of the money.  I asked several Cubans in my hotel if that arrangement is really true.  All confirmed that it is.  The workers don’t get $8–$10 an hour; they get 67 cents a day—a child’s allowance.

Read the whole thing, HERE.