It Really Shows, Ma’am!

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

A Cuban store selling in hard currency. Photo: Caridad

For a person who has never set foot outside of Cuba and for the first time they finally do, it’s very difficult to get over the psychological trauma caused by such a long time here with so many questions.

We’re accustomed to hearing ones like: “What are we going to eat today?”  “Is it my turn to go to the store or not?”  “Have the rice, beans or sugar been delivered there yet?”  “Where’s the ration book?”  In short, people here are possessed by concerns and worries about their food for the month.

My aunt Lazara was invited by her son Evaristo (who lives outside of Cuba) to spend some time with her and to learn what lies beyond her day-to-day routine. Since the time he has left the island, he’s gotten used to seeing and buying necessities for himself and his family, in addition to those things he likes that are outside the ordinary.

“As soon as I got there, my son took me shopping at a supermarket,” she told us – still in awe.

“We were passing by all these shelves full of food and sometimes I didn’t even understand what they had since it was all written in a different language. I was dazzled by so much stuff. I’m telling you, I was so confounded that instead of wanting everything, my subconscious led me to buy rice, beans and sugar.

“Your cousin was watching me, but he didn’t say anything; he wanted to remember his impression of what happened when he went shopping outside of Cuba for the first time. After nearly two hours in that market, we went by the meat department and I almost died. Just imagine, there were all kinds of meat,” she continued.

“I bought around $ 25.00 worth of beef; I didn’t know the exact number of pounds it was. The truth is that the butcher asked me if I was Cuban and if I had just gotten here, to which I replied yes.
Then—with a mischievous smile on his face—he said, ‘It really shows, ma’am.’”

One thought on “It Really Shows, Ma’am!

  • I will not underplay the hardship of Cubans having to struggle for their daily food.
    It is very clear that it is a major problem .
    The diaries and articles printed at HT are very informative and in a very personal way that ordinary media articles do not, cannot express.

    A question I have is; do Cubans want to trade their problems for the problems of other (capitalist) developing countries with a similar economic base?

    I can remember the anti-Cuban propaganda from years ago in which the counter-revolutionaries in Miami would show pictures of the empty food shelves in Cuban distribution centers and compare them to the opulence of the food stores prior to the revolution where one could buy anything they wanted in as large a quantity as they wanted.


    In Africa, every year some 8,000,000 people die of starvation. There are stores and warehouse full of food in all the countries in which these people are dying and the reason they die year after year is because capitalism is the means of distribution.
    No money=no food

    They also die or are incapacitated by the millions from preventable and curable diseases because they can’t afford the doctor, medicine or a US$2.00 mosquito net.

    They are largely illiterate with no chance of a decent education because……..they do not have the money.
    to send their children to school and the children are often needed to run the family farm or business to get that $1.00 or $2.00 a day they barely survive on.

    “Man does not live by bread (and what you see in non-Cuban food markets) alone” .

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