Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

HAVANA, August 18, 1998, Cuba Free Press.


HAVANA The socialist state, through national social security, protects the workers and their families - according to the constitution in effect in Cuba. Yet now this same protecting state urges the workers to insure themselves against disability or death through an insurance enterprise owned by the government - state capitalism.

Something is going on. The omnipotent power which holds in its grip the life and death of each man and woman in this country is resorting to publicity campaigns to get customers for its brand new insurance business!

With such government advertising, government newspaper stories, government radio promotions, and house-to-house soliciting by government insurance agents, the old social security system, once a winning hand of real socialism, has been delegated to the back burner. It is hidden behind thousands of pesos and has turned into a bitter ingredient in the new discourse.

The National Insurance Enterprise (ESEN) by itself, a monopoly without any competition in the Island's virgin market, offers its melody to the new winds blowing through the Cuban society with its waves of shameful and poverty-stricken semi-capitalism.

According to ESEN's experts, the magic formula for a trouble-free retirement or facing the problems that result from an accident is a term insurance policy. Such a policy can be purchased by any Cuban or foreigner between the ages of 17 and 65. In the case of older people, up to age 75, they can obtain it by paying a premium. The insurance covers, then, the risks of death from any cause, funeral expenses (Hadn't we once heard that this was a guarantee under socialism?) and medicines. (Didn't we once have it understood that we were entitled to all the medicine and medical attention free of charge?)

This term insurance also covers disability - permanent, total or partial - as a consequence of injuries resulting from an accident and temporary incapacity requiring rehabilitation ranging from 15 to 180 days.

Now comes the issue of the worthless Cuban currency. The maximum coverage for life or disability insurance that Cubans can purchase amounts up to 50 thousand pesos. (The official exchange rate is presently at 21 pesos for each US dollar, so a 50,000-peso coverage equals about $2,381, worth somewhat more than it sounds because of the purchasing power of the US dollar.)

Not taking matters to the extreme, consider just an average example is the case of a professional, earning some 300 pesos per month who takes out insurance for 15 thousand. He has to pay a sum equivalent to his entire salary, spread over several months.

If the professional dies, the designated beneficiary stands to receive 15 thousand pesos, and if he's left incapacitated, the amount that he's entitled to is specified by the insurance company indemnity tables.

The ESEN carries, in addition, a line of insurance for motor vehicles, fire and storm insurance, bicycle insurance and theft and property loss insurance.

What the new socialist enterprise hasn't explained satisfactorily is just how the people receiving the proceeds from insurance can acquire the materials with which to repair their homes, or purchase car parts or a new bicycle.

Now, for sure, we have to get insurance. I have no doubt that many Cubans are even now filling out their ESEN applications, because here, just to get up every morning, one has to have a dream - and now life insurance against despair.

By Raul Rivero, Cuba Free Press.

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Copyright © 1998 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.