the ancient past visual

Cuban cashola

Flickr photoFidel doing what he does best: Mov­ing the crowd.

I trav­eled to Cuba 10 years ago this sum­mer, and I unearthed this 10-peso note when I moved ear­li­er this sum­mer. Coin­ci­dence, or a sign that I should return some­time soon? 

When I was there, the offi­cial exchange rate was one Amer­i­can dol­lar to one Cuban peso, but one could get 20 Cuban pesos with one Amer­i­can dol­lar if one exchanged mon­ey on the street. It appears that this hasn't changed, though Wikipedia notes that Cuban pesos have no val­ue in cur­ren­cy mar­kets. When I was there, Cuba was still reel­ing from the col­lapse of the USSR, and accom­mo­da­tions were made to han­dle the hard­ships known of this Spe­cial Peri­od. For exam­ple, the Amer­i­can dol­lar could be used to pur­chase "lux­u­ry goods," though at that point "lux­u­ry" involved eat­ing chick­en once in a while and drink­ing an occa­sion­al beer. They've since intro­duced a sec­ond cur­ren­cy to replace the Amer­i­can dol­lar, the con­vert­ible peso, while keep­ing two tiers of goods. Yan­qui go home!