HAVANA TIMES — “I‘m not going to eat an expensive Nestle ice cream, it’s better to queue up at Coppelia even though it takes 2 or 3 hours. I can eat an ice cream sundae for 10 pesos.”
“This perfume smells really nice, but I’ll never be able to buy a perfume that costs more than 15 CUC, because that’s a luxury.”
“I’d like to have this dress… and even though I have 25 CUC, I should use it to buy food for home.”
“Why am I going to buy hair dye, if I have to keep on buying it afterwards? It´s better to leave my grey hair, and that way I´ll save money.”
I’ve heard these phrases thousands of times, coming from the mouths of people who even though they have the money to buy these products, don’t, because they are a reflection of poverty and the guilt of consumerism. It’s the dread that you’ll end up with no money which rests in the veins of ordinary Cubans, and audacity, if you can call it that, to spend money on unnecessary things, because of the pressing need to only use it to buy food and basic items.
Many people with low incomes, if they suddenly receive, or have a certain amount of money in their pocket, want to spend it as fast as they can, but in the end they decide to buy what is more urgent: they go to the agro-market, they buy beans, some root vegetables, and then oil, soap in the store…
They prefer to eat at home because it’s cheaper, and they don’t take the risk of being charged more than 20 CUC for a meal, because they consider that robbery. If they do spend money in a restaurant, the guilt will follow them for a long time. Then they think: I could have spent that money on something useful and I spent it on going out that one time…”
Quite simply, they can’t relax, they can’t give themselves this luxury, even if they were given money as a present, because they are conditioned to stretch it out as far as they can.
Who doesn’t like having an elegant dress for a special occasion? But then they ask themselves: for what? If I’m not going anywhere classy. And as a result, dreams slowly disappear and they become modest because of a lack of perspective.
The closet is full of old junk, they can’t update their wardrobe. They’ve inherited furniture from their parents and grandparents.
Save up money to travel? That’s a real utopia.
A psychological state has been created in poor people in Cuba so that they can do without so many things and hate consumerism like they would an infernal machine.