Alfredo Fernández Rodríguez

Do most Cubans really want the ration cards to disappear?  Photo: Caridad
Do most Cubans really want the ration cards to disappear? Photo: Caridad

My comment today originates from my horror over a slew of articles recently published in Granma (official newspaper of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Cuba.)

Every Friday its Letters to the Editor section is devoted to the publication of letters and emails “about how to further improve our society,” according to the editor of this section, who continues on by pointing out that the publication “may or may not” be in agreement with the opinions expressed therein.

This section, which only identifies the published authors by first initial and last name, presents letters ranging from public denouncements of difficulties in Cuba’s labor sector to petitioning for solutions to problems affecting the community or the person writing the letter.

During parts of August and September, several letters were published in which readers, in one way or another, advocated for the elimination of the ration book to aid the ailing national economy.  The ration book is a small 20-page booklet with which the Cuban people have been able to buy basic food staples at very low prices since the 1960s.

The opinions published were more or less like “we have passed the stage of needing the ration book in Cuba.”

It is true that the paper makes clear that these are “opinions, with which it may or may not agree.”  But still I wonder: What is the point of publishing letters from different people advocating the same thing for several Fridays?

Where did the letter writers get such extreme kindness that it allows them to worry about the national economy before their fellow countrymen’s welfare or their own?  What will the low-income families and many elderly people do if this measure is implemented under the current situation of food prices at the farmers markets?

It is well known by all that life in Cuba today is extremely expensive.  In front of a kiosk, a woman who five years ago ate lunch in a subsidized cafeteria, read one of the letters and exploded: “If there is one thing that has made this Revolution possible for fifty years it has been precisely this ration book!”

I don’t know, but that letters section of the paper rouses my doubts.  A little over a year ago, unsurprisingly, many readers wrote in advocating for the retirement age in Cuba to be raised by five years.  That measure was implemented a few months later without incident.

It is worth noting that the series in question ended with a very mature letter by historian Jorge Renato Ibarra, who stated that general insufficient productivity of the Cuban food industry and the still low wages of workers make approving this measure impossible for the moment.

Thus, we can only put our trust in God that what happened with the retirement age does not happen with this.


Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.

6 thoughts on “Letters that Leave a Bad Taste

  • There are two “core” economic mechanisms for running socialism. The 1st way is stipulated in the Communist Manifesto and is the “core idea” of Marxist economics. In this way the socialist state owns and controls all the means of production. The economy becomes a giant state corporation with one owner. All citizens are wage or salary employees of this corporation. This way of running socialism has been tested in the honest laboratory of history and the results are in.

    The 2nd way is where the state does not own and control all the means of production. It allows farming & small business families to own their concerns, and does not tax their profits. It helps employees to own most other industry–small, medium and larger–thru common (voting) corporate stocks. The state takes significant part ownership thru preferred (non-voting) stocks. Employees run enterprise according to market demand–with guidelines by the socialist state.

    Cuba will try this way or ???

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