CUC or CUP? (Havana, Cuba)

Hi globetrotters,

As you may have already known i went to Cuba, and one of the most immediately noticeable things is the double currency. I dont of any other country that has a double currency.

One of them is the CUP, which is the Cuban peso. The locals use it for many every day items. The other one is CUC, which is the Cuban Convertible Peso. This is what tourist use and what is mainly accepted at tourist establishments.

1 CUC equals 1 dollar. However, in my Cuban tips post, I mentioned Cuba tacks on an additional 10% if you exchange with dollars. Therefore, I would like to think the exchange rate is 1 CUC equals $0.90.

I don’t think you can easily convert your dollars to the CUP, because like I said earlier, that is intended for locals. But if you get the CUC first and then maybe exchange for CUP, i think the exchange is like $1.00 USD to 25.5000 CUP. You can use that for like food stands and local shops.

Now we have two currencies. They used to be seperate. Meaning a tourist item could not be purchased with CUP and vice versa. This meant the locals never got the quality products. Now, the tourist shops offer items in CUC and CUP.

Even though locals have access to these items now, it doesnt necessarily mean they can afford them. Mr. Lumberjack and I stood this long line at “Agua y Jabon,” thinking they sell bottled water. Nope. They only sold shampoos.

We decided to walk around the small store and by something to make the wait worthwhile. I looked at the prices. The exchange was equivalent, meaning a 2 CUC body wash would cost 51.0000 CUP.

This may seem like chump change for some, but for locals, thus could be a month’s pay. We went on a cigar tour and for those workers, that was their monthly pay. The guide said that pay was not unusual, and most jobs are just as laborious as making cigars.

So are the people going to spend most of their salary on something like body wash. Probably not. So even though the people CAN purchase these quality items, they won’t. It’s pretty much the same division as before when you think about it.

I think that’s why “Supporting the Cuban People” is a reason for Americans to travel to Cuba. Tourists are then more conscious to invest money into local businesses, where the Cuban people will benefit most.

Just some food for thought.

Ciao,

Amy

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