Roberto has been trying to get cash from an ATM in Havana for six days, the last time this Thursday. In vain. One by one, he was verifying what all the inhabitants of the capital attest this week: it is hardly possible to extract money.
The announcer Yunior Morales raised it this Wednesday with humor in their social networks. “You go to any ATM and there is no money. And tremendous Christopher Columbus,” he joked, referring to the immense queues. At the moment of making his transmission, an acquaintance is heard greeting him: “What’s up, Yunior?” He replies: “Here hungry, son, I’m hungry.” Why don’t you eat something there?, the interlocutor asked him, to which he replied: “I have to withdraw money first and no ATM works.” And he ends the video of him jokingly exaggerating: “I have a meeting of the CDR in the stomach of the hunger that I have. CDR because, you know, the CDR is hungry, chivateria and conflict”.
The situation seems to extend to many other cities in the country. In Holguín, a teacher tells 14ymedio that the Education workers have been divided into two payments: “one on the 5th and another that will pay on the 28th”, because “there is almost no money”. In addition, he says that “not even bank employees know when there will be cash in the ATMs.”
A doctor from Sancti Spíritus assures that in Public Health they have only paid by electronic transfer: “They deposited on the card, but for those who collect on paper, there is no money.”
In Holguín, a teacher tells that the Education workers have been divided into two payments: “one on the 5th and another that will pay on the 28th”, because “there is almost no money”.
More serious is what a state worker points out. “With payroll done and everything, the bank does not accept to process the payment through the cards because they do not have money, the railway is not an isolated event,” she says, referring to the unusual spontaneous strike organized on Tuesday by railway of Artemisin protest for the non-payment of their salaries in the last two months.
In Santiago de Cuba, the complaints that “there is no money in the ATMs” proliferate, at the same time that groups multiplying in the networks in which they are offered human tellers. “I change transfer money for cash. I have the cash,” say some; “I change CUP transfer for cash, I have the cash,” say others. Some include the precise amount, such as 17,000 pesos, for example, something unthinkable to extract in a bank.
Havanan Roberto tells this newspaper that he has checked at ATMs in “at least three municipalities” that, where before you could withdraw up to 10,000 pesos in one operation, “if there were 500 or 1,000 bills in the ATM,” now “they only allow extract 5,000”, and only in bills of 20.
This newspaper was able to accredit it at the Banco Metropolitano (Banmet) branch at 23 and J, in El Vedado, with such a central location that until recently it guaranteed any extraction, where the panorama this Thursday was chaos. To begin with, you had to endure a gigantic queue, divided in two: one to enter and another, the longest, for the ATMs. Of the six that there were, only two worked.
Inside the branch, for those who opted to extract at the counter, the bad atmosphere was widespread and contagious. The employees, rude to people and arguing with each other; the customers, tremendously upset. Two elderly ladies were about to come to blows, when one of them missed her turn to go out to visit her sick daughter in the hospital and the other refused to let her pass: “Right now we’re fighting here,” said this The latter, who lowered her temper when the threatened woman called the police.
A cashier rolled her eyes when an old man asked her what denomination the cashier gave out bills in, because he didn’t want “small” ones. The man wanted to get 40,000 pesos and he couldn’t. “That can happen because there are few large bills,” the employee told him.
“They are giving priority to those who are going to deposit national currency, but almost no one comes to that, could it be that they pass the one who comes to deposit pesos because there aren’t any?”
“Every day the same thing,” said another lady in line. “They pass in front of those who are going to deposit pesos and if you are going to withdraw, the amount does not matter, they give you 20-peso bills.”
“They are giving priority to those who are going to deposit national currency, but hardly anyone comes to that, could it be that they pass to the one who comes to deposit pesos because there are none?” asked another woman who had just arrived from another ATM, from the that he had tried unsuccessfully to remove. “Let them tell the truth, that there is no money.”
However, the authorities are silent these days. Last month, before the public rumor that state workers would be left without pay, the government of Sancti Spiritus he hastened to deny it. Those days, however, 14ymedio verified that cash could not be withdrawn from the 11 ATMs in the city.
The problems were repeated in Havana, where the provincial government reported that 150 of the 521 Banmet ATMs in the capital (30%) were damaged. Then, they also detailed that from April 8 to 14, cash withdrawals exceeded 200 million pesos per day.
Nothing is known what is happening in May, but the citizens are increasingly desperate. “We are going to have to buy with cocoa beans again, because cash on paper is an illusion,” says Roberto, who fears that “the entire country will be paralyzed at any moment.”
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