By Daisy Valera

Photo by Michael Landis
Photo by Michael Landis

“The pig meat tragedy,” that’s what I ended up calling what happened to me at the Tulipan Market, which is characterized by its wide assortment of fruits and vegetables at prices a little lower than those in non-state-run markets.

This market is operated under the Youth Army of Labor, which is supervised by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).

By chance, I passed by there and decided to go in to find out what they had.  I almost left with empty hands but discovered an announcement that almost made me jump with joy – no exaggeration.

Pork was being sold at 20 (US $1.00) pesos a pound!

I couldn’t believe it, for the simple reason that practically the only places where pork is bought is through private vendors, and the price is always around 35 pesos a pound.

So, I got in the incredibly long line because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy meat at 15 pesos below the normal price.

With 40 pesos in my pocket, I believed that would be enough; but unfortunately it didn’t turn out like that.

Above the counters they had hung enormous pig legs.  So when I went to request my two measly pounds, they informed me that I could only buy one of the huge legs, which cost about 300 pesos each, given their weight.

Incapable of believing what was happening to me, and with my miserable 40 pesos in my pocket, I went running to look for the store manager to see if they could resolve this whole mess, which had also upset many of the other people in line.

Very politely he explained to me that it had been established that the meat could not be cut up, to which I posed my question: Why?

He then informed me of something that I not even imagined in my wildest dreams: The state entity had rented space to private vendors so that they could sell their products as they saw fit.

I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  I left fuming, without meat, and my 40 pesos still in my pocket – like many others.

I’m still not able to understand how all these private vendors can sell meat while there don’t exist state cooperatives that could logically supply this same product, since they have more resources.

Consuming meat is a problem for ordinary Cubans, those who can’t fork out 300 pesos or don’t have the luxury of buying meat in hard-currency CUCs.

It seems incredible that working Cubans spend so much work to put this basic item on their table when a better allocation of resources and only a little effort in the appropriate direction would be enough to solve this simple problem.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

2 thoughts on “A Pork Tale

  • Perhaps, Grady.

    In the 90’s the people who ran the ‘privatization-madness’ of public services in Latin America sabotaged their countries in order to enrichen their pockets.

  • Daisy, I don’t know, but all the nonsensical stuff I’ve been hearing about in Cuba through HT has given me a weird thought. Is it possible that some people in the Cuban bureaucracy are making things run so bad on purpose?

    If so (like this “pig meat tragedy”), why would they be doing it?

    Maybe they are hoping for the collapse of socialism in your country, so that they can then go into business and become wealthy.

    Is such a thing even remotely possible?

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