Style | Swellboy

Swellboy on… capitalism in Cuba

Cubans have now got capitalism down to a fine art

Swellboy on… capitalism in Cuba

Image: Brijesh Patel

November 27 2010
Nick Foulkes

The other day I while in Havana I was approached by a man with an album of vintage cigar labels. This is a fairly common occurrence, and I remember when I first went to Cuba I bought a couple of dozen, for a dollar or two each, and they now decorate the wall of a downstairs loo.

Today, however, things are different, as I found when I selected one or two and asked the price. The vendor politely referred me to the price list at the back of his album. This level of professionalism should have prepared me for what was to come; nevertheless I was stunned to find that one of the labels I liked was 400 pesos (the convertible Cuban peso is more or less pegged to the dollar).

Given the prices he was asking, I was tempted to take his phone number and ask if he was keen on purchasing my collection.