The Average Citizen in Cuba

19 Jan

Holguin markets remain without supplies despite announcements made by the government in the last quarter of 2009 about finding alternatives to provide variety of foods to the population. With just two weeks since St. Germain’s opened the new market, “The Ideal” (ironically named), the product shelves are empty.

When the market opened it offered a variety of  foods; the shock in the population was not caused by the variety offered but rather by the limited supply of individual items and the astronomical prices.  Only those individuals with “family support,” that is receiving remittances from abroad, could shop to celebrate Christmas.  The rest returned home with empty hands.

So far this month (January), “The Ideal” only exhibits powdered soft drinks and something that in Cuba is called meat byproducts. Some residents of San Germán feel that this game is more of the same as has happened in other provinces where food has gone from the reserves or the hard currency shops to stock markets, at a time when important dates that require people to be happy are celebrated, but after the passage of a few weeks everything returns to like it was before.

At the well known Garayalde market, located in one of Holguin’s central streets, customers wait several hours for the arrival of goods delivered by the government distribution network and available for sale with local currency (pesos), but not even this system can meet the demand. The tumult of people wanting to buy something is unimaginable, they engage in disputes and at the end only a few get to buy food.

There too the masses return home with slumped shoulders, hoping to arrive early the next day and be among the first in line with the hope of acquiring goods if the government distribution network makes a delivery

If eating is a problem, clothing yourself is another that is even worse. In recent months, the so called TRD and Cubalse shops made a strange fusion by ministerial order, and as might be expected, to support the introduction they made some changes in prices. One observes, however, a stagnation in products, some because the quality and price are not equivalent, others because prices are too expensive for the level of acquisition of the “average Cuban.” Many pull out their money to buy clothing but fail to understand that to both eat and clothe themselves, they must turn into hundreds of “average Cubans” at the same time.

* An average Cuban citizen was for many years in Cuba considered a professional who after graduation worked and earned at least 350 pesos, enough to lead a comfortable life when a loaf of bread cost ten cents and a gallon of milk 25 cents.

Translated by: LJM

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