Jack’s Magic Beans Still Haven’t Come to Cuba

By Regina Cano


HAVANA TIMES — Sitting in a flower bed, his feet facing the pavement, a 40-year-old or so man was making conversation with some shining red beans that lay scattered on the ground before his eyes, which had fallen out of a bag, where the rest of them sat next to a pack of spaghetti, while he was saying to them: “…you’re always trying to confuse me…”.

I kept on walking, away from the Cobadonga Hospital located in the Cerro neighborhood of Havana, unable to interrupt such an unusual conversation and intimate relationship, while I asked myself if these people who seem to have another reality where they can withdraw themselves and find shelter will soon become regular pedestrians on Havana’s streets again, when the “confusion” comes to hit us all.

There won’t be any magic beans to help the Cuban people put up with another “Special Period” – economic crisis – like the one we had before, in spite of ordinary Cubans hoping that now that their financial positions are slightly better, different to the position they were in before, will soften the blow a little, and protect their families from the shock.

And when I say different kinds of financial situations, I include those of independent sellers, people who have contracts in places that have foreign investment or new contract arrangements with State institutions or people who leave the country and work abroad.  Nonetheless, there are still a good number of State workers who depend on their salary – as well as all of the informal channels in which they can get hold of money, which are very diverse- from various sources- which includes money that is sent from abroad by relatives of those who still live in Cuba.

Word is spreading about the upcoming economic shortages we’ll suffer in the near future here in Cuba, which confirms the clear preventative measures that the government is enforcing to protect the remaining oil reserves that they have, so it seems.

There are already some state-run stores and workplaces that close before the end of the working day, which work in the dark or don’t switch on the air conditioning, with closed buildings designed for it because of this unbearable heat.

On the other hand, transport services have decreased, although the residential sector still hasn’t been affected that much.

People are already talking about the much hated and fearful 8 hour blackouts returning, as if they were already happening and some people are even beginning to buy candles for when the lights go out and other things that may run out soon, investing what little they have in their pockets on detergent, soap and other important items.

A cousin phoned me from Santiago de Cuba and told me that people were “hoarding” everything that could run out immediately.

And from what we’ve learnt in the past, people are afraid that this will become an irreversible reality, soon prices will increase on the black market that will also hoard things. If Cuba stops receiving oil from Venezuela, it probably won’t be able to establish a stable oil supply contract that will allow the country to continue to function.

Unfulfilled dreams will pass all through all of our minds again, always cautious so that we can get double or more out of something.

And there’s probably a lot of people here praying to their gods that we don’t have to ride bikes again everywhere, or that we end up with the famished appearance we had thanks to those bikes and all of the cooking and non-cooking inventions that we had to concoct.

Yep, fears are a growing in relation to a “Second Special Period”, like some people are already calling it, while others announce that they don’t think they’ll be able to live through it all over again and others are convinced that they won’t live to see it. Will they die or leave the country? The latter is the most likely to occur.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

14 thoughts on “Jack’s Magic Beans Still Haven’t Come to Cuba

  • August 8, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Many in Canada have been working with setting micro loans with small farms food processors in Cuba. There a shortage of everything from bike tires to seed to skim milk powder. We have been able to send some items duty free into Cuba. We have worked with 3 nonprofit groups in Cuba. The Cuban goverment often does not get back to us. We have to push them only after many visits to their office in Canada do we get a answer. We would like to work with others to both push the Cuban goverment to open up more small business so they do more manufacturing and food production and transportation and processing. We also are looking for more investors. [email protected]

  • July 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    I confine my comments about Cuba to reality not to stories. Jack’s Magic Beans from whence sprouted the beanstalk is a fairy tale – as are the non-identifiable “improvements” in the lives of the Cuban people.

  • July 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    But you can’t quite remember any of them or alternatively you have become a touch bashful?

  • July 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Very much hated, until someone wants to immigrate, then they line up to come here, the USA. Which leads me to the problem with Cubans overthrowing the government. Maybe it’s not in our nature, Cuban nature that is. Or, more likely, Cubans simply flee Cuba and come to the USA instead. Just yesterday another boat load of Cubans landed in Key Biscayne.

  • July 21, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    How would ending what is left of the US embargo improve life for ordinary Cubans? The Cuban tourism sector is struggling to cope with the sudden increase in US visitors already. If all restrictions on US tourism are lifted, how would Cuba cope with millions more Americans coming to Cuba?

    If Cuba is allowed to purchase US goods on credit, will they improve their record on payments to creditors, or will Cuba default again, as they have to Europe & Russia?

    If the embargo is lifted & Cuba is allowed to export goods to the US, how will Cuba’s decrepit economy be able to produce these goods? Will they be able to increase production, given that Cuban economic production in all sectors has fallen steadily for decades?

    If the embargo is lifted & US investors are allowed to invest in Cuba, will the Castro regime remove their myriad restrictions, controls and conditions on investments which scare off prudent investors from around the world?

    Over the past 18 months, Obama has weekend the embargo & lifted various restrictions. Has this resulted in any measurable improvements for ordinary Cubans?

    Please be specific in your answers. Site statistics and provide links to data, if you can.

    Meanwhile, the Castro regime has increased political repression. Do you consider that an improvement or no?

  • July 21, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Why should the U.S. government, the most despised/hated country on the planet, be doing ANYTHING? Let someone else help for a change. When Cubans are willing to die for freedom, they will overthrow the govt.

  • July 21, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Oh for crying out loud! We all know that ending the ECONOMIC embargo would do wonders to improve the economic situation in Cuba for all Cubans. Obama has NOT been providing GIFTS to Cuba… he has merely been punching holes in the insane interventionist policies that never should have been instigated in the first place. That’s why the Cuban government doesn’t OWE America a thing. If you continue to believe that it should be a “tit for tat” arrangement, I’m afraid that you will be sadly disappointed. Level the playing field first…respectfully…and then lets see what happens.

  • July 21, 2016 at 8:11 am

    jajajaja You kill me, Carlyle! The internet is absolutely loaded with stories of the many improvements that have happened in Cuba over recent years. No secrets there. You’re a case. jaja

  • July 20, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    To precis Terry what you are indicating is that any improvements made in Cuba have to remain secret.

  • July 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

    “Where is your list of improvements in Cuba or are you now accepting that there is no improvement in the lives of “the poor people of Cuba”?”

    Carlyle, did you not read what I said about that in my response to Circles? Of course you did. End of story.

    “The imposition of communism upon the people of Cuba is not a little matter. I remain opposed to it and you obviously remain a supporter of it.”

    I obviously remain a supporter of it?? What?? You see, this is what I don’t like about you… you jump to these wild speculations about many things… and without my feedback, in your own mind, they then become factual. Why not simply ask me the question?

    “You speak as eloquently as you can manage, of “bitching about what is lacking in Cuba.” There is as evidenced by the successive articles in Havana Times, a lot to criticize regarding the Castro communist regime and little if anything to provide credit.”

    Carlyle, you totally missed my point… there is still much more that the American government can do to help the poor people of Cuba. All of your criticisms of the Cuban government will accomplish absolutely nothing compared to promoting further policy changes required of the American government. In other words… while it’s fine to have constructive criticisms, a balanced approach is what is needed…and deserving.

    “You yourself, given the opportunity by the Editor, to provide a list of improvements, proved unable to name any!”

    Carlyle, as I indicated in my response to Circles in that other thread, it’s not that I’m UNABLE to name any, it’s that I CHOSE not to name any… and for the reason I already explained. Once again, nice try at distorting the facts to fictitiously support your ongoing witch hunt.

  • July 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    The great thing about the Cold War was that it ended with the collapse of the Soviet Communist Empire and the liberation of the people of Eastern Europe from oppression. The best way to assist the poor people of Cuba would be for the communist yoke to be lifted from their necks and for freedom of the media and muti-party democratic elections to be held – as defined incidentally in the Cuba Democracy Act of the US Congress which I quoted in these pages a few days ago without saying what it was. The interesting thing was that there was no adverse reaction from the usual regime supporters. By not saying what it was the usual knee jerk reaction didn’t occur.

  • July 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Where is your list of improvements in Cuba or are you now accepting that there is no improvement in the lives of “the poor people of Cuba”?
    The imposition of communism upon the people of Cuba is not a little matter. I remain opposed to it and you obviously remain a supporter of it.
    You speak as eloquently as you can manage, of “bitching about what is lacking in Cuba.” There is as evidenced by the successive articles in Havana Times, a lot to criticize regarding the Castro communist regime and little if anything to provide credit. You yourself, given the opportunity by the Editor, to provide a list of improvements, proved unable to name any!

  • July 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Poor Carlyle and Moses… still forever stuck in your little Cold Wars. Instead of endlessly bitching about what is lacking in Cuba, why not proactively support what more the U.S. government could be doing in a non-interventionist capacity to help the poor people of Cuba.

  • July 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    It would be very interesting to hold a poll of the under 45 age group in Cuba with one question:

    “Would you like to leave Cuba?”

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