Change the change

by: Antonio López Sánchez


The very old, though not at all obsolete, song El chevy by Alejandro García (Virulo) marked the time at the time. Those who lived it will remember the American Dodge, Ford Falcon and Chevrolet (the Chevys) cars used as taxis in the late 1970s and some of the 1980s. The last verse of the subject, referring to the meter (object this yes, almost extinct, except in the premises of the strong currency), described the final dialogue between taxi driver and passenger: “Mark one fifty but I have no change, so it is best to round / add the tip, leave me five pesos, until then, many thanks and nothing else”. Since then the change, the return, that money that you often owe when paying for a purchase, was a cause for debate and even decorn.
Recently an artist complained on her Facebook account about the difficulties of being able to change her pay money, or use it in direct purchases. The complaint, in general, was that some establishments do not accept the large denominations of the banknotes or always claim to have no change. This brings obvious difficulties. You have silver and sound and can not meet your needs.
Some offered solutions such as having a magnetic card or bank account. Others suggested using the Telebanca service. A third party said that, in stores where there is this possibility, it can be paid through that same magnetic card from the bank account. Even a couple even invited her to just resign he heed. In short, with something already in a bad mood, the artist ironized that in the end, she was the culprit, for having no bank account, no card, and for charging in large bills. Analyzing the matter leads to several edges, each more complex, so, let’s go in parts, such as the everlasting Jack The Ripper.
The Cuban state issued several new banknote denominations some time ago. Two hundred, five hundred and a thousand pesos were the printed values. Since then, remember this scribe having seen a piece of paper hanging on a pair of routers prohibiting paying with such magnitudes. In areas of convertible currency, and without further issuance, we find equal prohibition in some places, in this case with hundred and fifty CUC banknotes.
If you are an observer, and have good memory, you will remember that a few years ago the banknotes had a text stating that the value of that currency was fully guaranteed with gold, at foreign exchange. In addition, it also said that these banknotes, valid for repaying any debt incurred in the national territory (when there was only one currency) were an obligation of the Cuban State.
Of parity with the gold standard, after Bretton Woods, it is not worth speaking, as it is a rough and complex subject, in Cuba and around the world. However, banknotes in both currencies, although they no longer have the lyric, remain an obligation of the Cuban state. Therefore, they continue to have absolute value to cover all debts and commitments to be paid within the national territory.
While in matters of daily logic pay five pesos, the price of a router, with a five-hundred-dollar bill, may sound excessive and put the driver in a complicated situation, the matter has another side. What happens is that no driver, nor any administrator or owner of any establishment may prohibit the use of the currency legally in force throughout the country, by the work and grace of their will and above the laws. In areas of the CUC the ban has a justification, absurd on both sides, but that exists. When you pay with hundred and fifty CUC bills, you must then take out your ID card, be registered in a mamotreto where you write down the serial number of the ticket, your identity number, plus the signature of the employee and yours. Imagine such a process a couple of times in a queue eager to acquire some difficult product. To avoid the procedure, some administrator or some dependent, ducho en ardides such as Odysseus, forbade paying with both denominations and already. By the way, it olympically violates the laws of the country and its rights as a citizen, from here to Ithaca.
Solving these problems, as always, rests on logic and, above all, on effort. Is it so difficult to train those who work with money to detect the many security marks that any modern ticket has and prevent receiving a fake ticket? Is it so difficult for a site clerk to have, as it should, a fund large enough to give the change? On the other hand, if you receive, at a cashier, in the Cadeca, or in your monthly salary (more now that it was increased) an amount in high denomination tickets what is done? Do you give up going to the market? Is it your fault?
The solutions that the foristas provided in the dialogue mentioned above on Facebook are also not ideal. It is rarely that electronic communication systems operating in stores and banks are out of service. That makes Telebanca’s cards, bank accounts and services inoperative. By the way, none of these systems are used to buy in the agribusiness, and in many other places, because I have not seen any with electronic communication or automated boxes. Computerization advances, but it’s no use either. What to do if you live alone, don’t have a bank account or card, load a five-hundred-dollar bill and don’t need more than two or three pounds of malanga for this week? On the other hand, nor does the pay rise now mean the flock that channels the disappearance of lower-value banknotes. Of course, they’re still valid.
The low denomination currency, media, pesetas, cents, should circulate as well. Without making a great deal of effort by heart, we could say that right now maybe there is no product worth not a cru sty, not five cents of the national currency. There are also few, for there is never returned anywhere, those worth a price and fraction in often. The bus ticket, forty cents, is the cheapest thing I remember. Some people, especially the elderly, take the job of going to the bank, changing money in pesetas and at the stops, in the face of the delivery of a weight, return eighty cents. For every weight changed they earn twenty cents for their service.
I don’t know if it’s self-employment, or if they pay taxes. It should be fully legalized, because it is something very useful and that, not only helps us not to pay a weight in each guagua of the day (with or without collector, no one changes it anymore) and to save our peculio, but also puts the coins to circulate. Some economist will be able to better explain why it is necessary for a country’s good walk that all its monetary denominations, large and small, are active.
Perhaps agrimarkets, shopping and self-employment establishments could establish such management. There’s always supposed to be a fund to face the change in your sales. That’s supposed to be the job of someone who charges a salary (maybe bad and everything, but he charges it) for doing it. But we already know that, out of ineptitude, or because the keymate has not arrived, or because night tides in Borneo were delayed, it is not done as it should be done. So you couldn’t hire a person who does the job of changing enough money every day, so that no one has to curse, and curse, for having a useless five-hundred-peso bill? It seems like a somewhat absurd solution, but it is a magnificent antidote to bad character, and empty hands, of anyone who gets to buy something and can’t, even having money. It even creates a new job. One absurd, one, but at least serve.
As always, illogical apart, solving such locks rests on eliminating the desidia, in using the head and heart, to eradicate the degana, the cannot, the irrational work, otherwise always unproductive, that irritates and backwards. President Miguel Díaz-Canel has called on Cubans and Cubans to think as a country. This, in addition to many other meanings, means that the mechanisms of operation, acts, reasons and methods of each day must be thought, above all, according to one’s neighbour, of the well-being of the other, which in the end results in ours, that of all.
The other solution, already on the grounds of the most island surrealism, would be for us to take the malanga and all exhibit, as in Mark Twain’s tale of the million dollar bill, our useless coins, as proof that we will be able to pay one day. When the change comes up, and, hopefully, without having to round. Ω

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