Nonardo Perea

Burning an effigy of the passing year.

HAVANA TIMES — On December 28, 29 and 30, Cuban television announced that markets would be set up in all of Havana’s municipalities to sell food products (pork, beans and root and green vegetables) at affordable prices.

The news was well received by low-income people, who anxiously awaited the arrival of those days, and we’re ultimately treated to an unpleasant experience.

At 124th, an avenue in Marianao, they set up a single stand to sell a foul-smelling pork meat, and a kilometer-long line of people had formed. Anywhere you went you heard people complain, saying that the price difference was insignificant when compared to what private vendors charged. The crowds around trucks selling onions and cabbage were so large that the police had to intervene on more than one occasion. They even detained some people who were trying to buy products from these trucks. An ill-tempered woman said that the poor organization was deliberate, a way of inciting trouble and making things hard for people. This same woman stretched out her arm to show us a string of mid-sized onions that had cost her 5 Cuban pesos.

Other trucks parked in the area sold three larger strings of onions for 25 Cuban pesos. It was a better option, but buying anything from these trucks was almost impossible because of the huge crowd of people around them. The crowds became so unruly they had to suspend the sales – and not only because of the commotion, but also because the owners of the truck were from the province of Pinar del Rio and, before selling anything, they had to make a declaration that they had failed to make. They had simply arrived and started selling, until the competent authorities realized what the situation was and showed up at the place. They argued with the owners of the truck, who insisted they could sell their products without having to declare anything. Ultimately, they were forced to stop.

The same thing happened in the municipality of La Lisa, where nearly all of the products sold lacked quality and the pork looked spoiled. Everyone standing in line was complaining about the markets. In the end, low-income Cubans didn’t get much out of fairs.

That said, one sensed a bit more joy out on the streets this New Year’s. I saw many fire-works go off and stuffed dolls were burnt in more than one neighborhood to see the year off.

Many believe that the new relations with the United States will make everything change for us, that, by the end of this year, we may get to see Santa Claus cruising across Cuban skies, dropping real gifts for the people.


Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

5 thoughts on “Saying Farewell to 2014 in Cuba

  • There should be no shortage of food, especially in a Socialist country.

    “1 MILLION pounds of Food on 3 acres”

  • Yep. You caught that too.

  • Specifically, he said Cuban’s were looking for a Santa to drop presents from the sky.

  • It is telling that Cubans have such high hopes in the wake of Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba. Warhol P writes, “Many believe that the new relations with the United States will make everything change for us…”. Had he written ” because of our new relationship with the US, Cubans will become more productive and more entrepreneurial…” I would be more optimistic. But is appears that Warhol P, like many other Cubans, is simply looking for more handouts. Despite the media blackout in Cuba of the reality facing their Venezuelan wetnurse, most Cubans have realized that since the death of Chavez, that the Venezuelan charity is coming to an end. What saddens me is that rather than pressing to help themselves, they are simply looking for another “sugardaddy”. The US will make a poor benefactor. We usually take more than we give.

  • So long as the government meddles and controls the production & distribution of food, there will be shortages, corruption and waste. To improve the quantity, quality of food, and lower the prices, the Cuban government needs to free up the production and distribution of food. But it must be a far reaching change, including supplies, wholesale operators and distribution systems. Let the farmers grow what they want and sell it on the open market. Allow a wholesale market to grow. Allow Cubans to own and operate their own transport companies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *