January 30, 2023

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Develop Technology For The Connected World

Cuba’s informal market place finds new room on escalating web

6 min read

By MEGAN JANETSKY, Involved Push

HAVANA — In the Telegram team chat, the messages roll in like waves.

“I will need liquid ibuprofen and acetaminophen, be sure to,” wrote one person. “It’s urgent, it is for my 10-month-outdated baby.”

Other people give medication introduced from outdoors of Cuba, adding, “Write to me in a direct message.” Emoji-speckled lists offer antibiotics, pregnancy tests, natural vitamins, rash lotions and more.

The team information, which includes 170,000 persons, is just just one of numerous that have flourished in new many years in Cuba along with an exponential increase in online use on the communist-governed island.

The informal sale of every little thing from eggs to automobile pieces – the country’s so-known as black market – is a time-honored observe in crisis-stricken Cuba, wherever entry to the most basic products this sort of as milk, rooster, medicine and cleaning solutions has often been restricted. The marketplace is technically unlawful, but the extent of illegality, in official eyes, can range by the type of items offered and how they were acquired.

Prior to the online, this kind of exchanges took position “through your contacts, your neighbors, your local community,” explained Ricardo Torres, a Cuban and economics fellow at American College in Washington. “But now, as a result of the online, you get to attain out to an whole province.”

With shortages and economic turmoil at the worst they’ve been in yrs, the on-line marketplace “has exploded,” Torres mentioned.

Bustling WhatsApp teams focus on the casual trade fee, which presents much more pesos for every greenback or euro than the formal lender level.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s versions of Craigslist — web-sites these kinds of as Revolico, the island’s initial digital purchasing-and-providing device — market all the things from electric bicycles introduced in from other international locations to “capitalist apartments” in Havana’s rich districts.

Several products are marketed in pesos, but higher-priced products are generally mentioned in bucks, with payments possibly managed in funds or by bank transfers outdoors the place.

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