Cuban Bureaucracy during a Pandemic

By Safie M. Gonzalez

Cuba’s rations booklet has been around for over a half century.

HAVANA TIMES – I heard my neighbor raise his voice a little, this morning. He had just got back from the Oficoda (Control Office for Food Distribution). Cuban bureauracy makes his life a little more difficult amid the pandemic.

The man has been trying to get a transfer for his father’s rations. He’s sick and will stay with him for a while, for obvious reasons.

However, his father doesn’t officially live at his address. Therefore, he needs to get some seemingly simple paperwork, but this hasn’t been the case.

Most Cubans still need the ration booklet

Oficoda was created so that essentials were distributed fairly amongst the Cuban people. The Rations Booklet was created as a result. He needs a transfer so he can pick up his father’s rations at his bodega store, for the time being.

The ration booklet’s history is interesting. I has suffered changes ever since it first appeared in 1963 up until the present day. It’s also true that it helps a great percentage of the population to get by in terms of food. It’s exactly for this reason it still exists. Especially during these pandemic times, when being able to buy some basic foods is so essential, amid the shortages.

My neighbor lives here in the capital’s Marianao municipality. He has spent more than 10 days trying to get the transfer paperwork for his 80-year-old father.

Havana continues in phase “0” of the recovery process. There is no public transport, and people have ended up stranded in relatives’ homes for one reason or another. So it makes perfect sense to get a transfer, enabling him to buy the food that corresponds to his father.

Early last week, my neighbor went to the Oficoda in his area. He filled out the respective forms and was told to come back this week, to complete the process.

What happened? Well, everything changed on September 1st, yet again. Now, he has to go to the Municipal Oficoda office, which only opens one day per week. Just for an authorization letter.

I think it’s completely absurd, seeing as there isn’t any public transport and that office is in a remote place.

To top things off, this paperwork can only be processed one day a week. “At this rate,” my neighbor complains, “by the time I get my father’s transfer, it’ll be time for him to go back home, and this would have all been in vain.”

Read more diary posts by Safie M. Gonzalez

One thought on “Cuban Bureaucracy during a Pandemic

  • Es Cuba!

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