Cuba: One Ration Booklet, Different Bread Rolls

Jimmy Roque Martinez

HAVANA TIMES – Luckily, we still have a ration booklet in Cuba. In addition to a monthly quota of rice, sugar, grains and a tiny allotment of meat products, every person gets one bread roll a day.

Until some time ago, I thought everyone got the same bread. Then I discovered that I was wrong: the quality of the bread one gets depends on where one lives. This is not officially established, of course, but it happens this way in practice.

It is established that every bun weigh a minimum of 80 grams, but the ones my family get in Marianao, at the Las Americas bakery, are excessively small units whose weight oscillates between 45 and 60 grams. What’s more, the bread is often sour (tasting awful the next day), not soft and not quite white.

By contrast, the bread given people as part of food quotas in Vedado is large, white, soft and tasty. It weighs 80 grams and preserves these characteristics the day after.

It is clear to me that the traditionally underpriviliged areas in Havana (including Marianao) are also the most neglected today.

The daily bread roll in Plaza de la Revolución, the municipality that includes Vedado and another roll in Marianao.

How is it possible that the neighborhood representative does nothing about this, that the State inspectors responsible for verifying the quality of the bread do not see the problem? What bread is the chair of the municipal government eating? What are citizens doing to demand the little they are entitled to?

Many active or former government officials (and military officers) live in Vedado. They make up the “middle class” that is slowly emerging in Cuba. And it is becoming increasingly clear that this sector has “more rights” than those who live in underprivileged neighborhoods.

Could this be what the authorities mean when they speak of putting an end to egalitarian policies? One ration booklet but different kinds of bread?

Making quality bread rolls shouldn’t be hard, particularly when we recall that bread is one of the basic food products that make up the diet of Cubans, especially that of children.

It is the responsibility of consumers to demand that the products and services they receive have the required quality. After all, they aren’t gifts, they are rights.

Jimmy Roque Martinez

Jimmy Roque Martinez: I was born in Havana in 1979, and it seems that work has been my sign. Custodian, fish farmer, lens carver, welder, glass maker, optometrist, have been some of my trades. But none consumes as much of my time as caring for my family. For many years I’ve faced the least pretty face of this society, and I try to be happy while I transform it. I am too shy. I like silence, sleep, theater and movies. I hate injustice and arrogance, and I can hardly contain my anger when it happens in front of me.

4 thoughts on “Cuba: One Ration Booklet, Different Bread Rolls

  • Read “animal farm” by Orwell.
    Some districts get prioritized in the supply of goods.
    Havana, as a whole, for example is much better supplied than Santiago de Cuba in Oriente.
    Even the rationing gives more rice to people in Havana than Camaguey.

  • Oh, the excellence, efficiency & equality of Cuban state Socialism; everybody gets their very own tiny bread roll every day. How can the rest of the world ever hope to compete with this!

  • Here is what I don’t understand, if the law says minimum 80g per roll, how can you blame the bakers in Vedado following the law?

    The only people to blame are bakers in your district, correct? how do you know that the problem is not coursed by bakers and inspectors of your district? I lived in a socialist country too, but when you pointing the figures, make sure it is pointing to the right direction…

  • If bakeries had to compete for customers, this problem would, for the most part, resolve itself. Socialism fails where the opportunity to cut corners comes at the expense of the consumer. Quality production is the first corner cut when workers have no incentive to do their best. Corrupt inspectors only facilitate this weakness by turning a blind eye to low-quality output. The saddest part of all is that the most vulnerable in Cuba suffer the greatest. Those Cubans with the resources to buy their baked goods from bakeries that sell in CUC bypass this entire issue. Viva la revolucion!

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