The End of Workplace Cafeterias in Cuba

Osmel Almaguer

Sugarcane juice sales point in Havana.  Photo: Caridad
Sugarcane juice sales point in Havana. Photo: Caridad

This year is almost over; and people are commenting that during the next one, the Cuban State will make changes having major social and economic repercussions.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that one of the most controversial measures being discussed is the planned general elimination of workplace cafeterias.

These are the facilities where we have lunch on workdays for only one Cuban peso [about four cents USD].  The food at these is better at some companies and institutions than at others, and though some people criticize what’s on the menus, others are satisfied with it.

The situation at the cafeteria on my job is quite good; the food is served on dishes and the ambiance is pleasant.  This can be contrasted to other places at which I’ve worked where the lunches come on aluminum or plastic trays and the places are dark and poorly painted.  The preparation of the food where I work is also pretty good.

The menu is fairly standard: rice, beans, instant soda, bread or crackers, dessert and a main dish consisting of some kind of cold meat or chicken, though this latter is not served often – maybe once a week.

To decide if something is good or bad, we usually make comparisons.  Based on this, I can say that our cafeteria is better than average, but it still can’t compete with the cafeterias at the ministries or those of partially foreign-owned companies.

Most people I work with are opposed to the measure to eliminate the workplace cafeterias. Though they’ll get paid an additional 15 pesos a day, the prices in the street are still too high.

It’s also said that they’re preparing cafeterias in which the great mass of workers will be able to spend their 15 pesos for a satisfying meal, but that is still yet to be seen.

Up until now, workplace cafeterias have been subsidized by the State.  I know this is a measure to make the economy more dynamic, but currently there is a lack of food services to replace the service that will disappear.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.