Cubans Facing a Dead-End Street

By Safie M. Gonzalez


HAVANA TIMES – Anxiety cripples people, or at least the vast majority. It doesn’t matter where I go, conversations are disheartening. Sadness, which was already present in Cuban households, has now turned into hopelessness.

Cuba has been suffering transformations for over sixty years, but very few of them have benefited the general population. This, despite the fact, we’ve always been told otherwise.

Uncertainty is the first thing that every Cuban feels today. Followed by need, disagreement and desperation.

It is no longer a matter of food, which has been the greatest concern of anyone who has a family. Right now, it’s a matter of there being absolutely nothing. Or rather, there are things, but not every Cuban has access to these products, basic essentials in our everyday lives.

It’s no news that ever since US dollar stores opened in the country – stocked up with everything from food items to soap, shampoo, detergent, coffee -, there is practically nothing in the other stores that sell in the two Cuban currencies.

The little stock that arrives in other stores charging in Cuban currency, trickles in very gradually. For example, let’s say that store X gets chicken in. People will line up for it, and wait for hours on end to buy a packet. Maybe next week another line when cooking oil or detergent comes in, and so on. Is this a game?

What about people who have to work and can’t spend the whole day waiting in lines? Today, they’re waiting for chicken, tomorrow for cooking oil, hot dogs or minced meat, regardless. It’s so sad to watch people invest all of their time waiting in lines, day in and day out. Many people line up even when they don’t know what the store is going to sell. That’s because people are so desperately in need and shortages are so great, they will line up for whatever is being sold, however many times they need to.

I know (lots of) people who can’t get hold of a card to pay in dollar stores. They either don’t have relatives living abroad, or they can’t buy dollars on the street for such an expensive price.

I don’t believe this is the Cuba many of our parents and grandparents fought for. An equal Cuba, for everyone and for everyone’s wellbeing.

Read more from Safie M. Gonzalez’s diary here.

9 thoughts on “Cubans Facing a Dead-End Street

  • I lived in Merida, Yucatan Mexico for about 3 years, I rented a house near the port of Progreso (on the west end of Progreso, and there I saw and spoke to mariners who would go to that port every 2 weeks. The used a small ship (60 foot) and on its top deck it had 2-40 foot trailers, one was a freezer and the other was a cooler. They would pull into the port and purchase as much seafood as well as beef and other consumable items as would fit and then head back to Cuba.
    It should be explained that those containers could carry approx. 70-80 thousand pounds of goods, not enough for the Island’s consumers. This went to Castro’s regime and high officials. This I was told by the ship’s crew with whom I developed somewhat of a friendship.
    So with this in mind did the blockade hurt the Government or… ITS PEOPLE?

  • Foe years I have been fighting with fellow Cubans here in Miami. I tell them that the best way to fight the injustices that have plagued Cuba for at least the last 50 years… “The Embargo” is to request the American Government to “LIFT THE EMBARGO” . The Cuban Government has blamed the embargo for the poor living conditions that exists there so… Lift the embargo and the problem then will be Conque compramos las cosas? WHAT CAN WE USE TO BUY THESE THINGS?
    And then it will be obvious that the problem is/was not the embargo but rather THE SYSTEM!
    There are many countries that DO NOT have an embargo with Cuba and would love to sell things to Cuba but the Government does NOT HAVE any money.

  • While the politicians are dining on beef, turkey or lobster this festive Swanson the people who they claim to represent in the fight against capitalism are sitting down to rice and beans if they are lucky with their homes crumbling down around them. Shame on you politicians, this is simply not due to the embargo, but due to your inept governing of your beautiful country.

  • David, I am proud of you. My situation is the same as yours. I have developed lasting relationships with several families. Families that I cannot abandon because they would starve. I have purchased everything from refrigerators to tennis shoes. God bless you and the Cuban people.

  • My wife and I have visited this incredible island nation 22 times. We have made more friends than we can possibly count, especially 4 individuals. Once the Cuban people gain your trust, they will let you know the struggles they face.
    We have purchased big ticket items for them ($1,000.00 +), which they could never afford.
    As well, monthly, we send them food through Canadians helping Cubans (otherwise they starve), and lastly, you can load up a debit card with American dollars that allow them to purchase goods they so badly need that we take for granted (soap, deodorant, shampoo etc.).
    My wife and I are far from rich, however,the Cuban people have taught us to appreciate what we have and all our disposable income is going to help our friends just SURVIVE…..So sad!

  • As I wrote before, Cuba has very prestine fertile sea full of seafood, fertile land to grow anything, hardworking, smiling people the reason people suffer because of the stupid laws practice by the government. For example, the law brought in 1972 banning people to consume beef, because of their stupid plan to develop a hibreed cattle failed and shortage for cattle but, now Cuba has more than enough cattle, enough even to export, still people will be thrown in jail if they eat beef. I love Cuba and Cuban people. Also so many food plenty there but, people don’t know to use them, like Murunga, so many greens, plantain blossom, do on.

  • Safie writes: “Sadness, which was already present in Cuban households, has now turned into hopelessness.” There seemed to be some hope for some form of transformation, albeit a slight door opening, but at least there was some hope in the San Isidro Movement (MSI).

    These Cuban independent artists and journalists were trying to seek some change in Cuban society so that all Cubans can be lifted out of the horrendous economic and political mess they are currently in. These Cuban extremely well educated citizens have a vision for Cuba different than what they and their parents have been forced to live with in the past 60 plus years.

    They and their parents have had to suffer enumerable economic hardships up to the point of not having enough money to provide sufficient food for their families. These independent artists and journalists have had enough and have the internal fortitude to stand up and ask (demand?) change.

    What are they up against? Well, a well oiled totalitarian state who knows very well how to play this political chess game. First, they placate the instigators by having the communist state’s propaganda machine publicly announce scheduled meetings with the artist to make sure the Cuban population is made aware the communist government is acting on their behalf. The Cuban government is so called “listening”.

    Now, the government communist elites set up a “us vs. them” scenario whereby the “them” are painted as outside agitators spurred on by an enemy government, the United States, of course, and the propaganda machine makes sures to put a sticking label on these artists as “mercenaries” working for unfriendly foreigners.

    The government again with its propaganda machine informs all Cuban citizens with its state controlled broadcasting machine that those San Isidro Movement (MSI) artists do not have the best interests of the Cuban nation at heart, are outcasts, and as such all meetings, communications, will cease and there is no further need to discuss their petitions because they are worthless.

    Safie continues to write: “Cuba has been suffering transformations for over sixty years, but very few of them have benefited the general population.” Absolutely correct, and the (MSI) movement is another example of a group of well intentioned young Cubans who want to see an end to the country’s economic and cultural misery and are being denigrated by their own leaders who are totally committed to communist ideology and a calcified need not to change anything for the better. Any civil change that does not parallel communist ideology or is not instigated by communist leaders is not beneficial change at all, so they say.

    In the meanwhile, as Safie writes, “I don’t believe this is the Cuba many of our parents and grandparents fought for.” She is absolutely correct. These young independent artists and journalists, sons and daughters of Cubans who have helped, sacrificed and struggled for years and years for a better Cuba only to be constantly denied a decent future.

    Circles Robinson in his article “Cuban Government Calls Off Talks with Artists” (December 4, 2020) provides a very clear historical perspective: “Back in 1961, Fidel Castro set what is still government cultural policy. He said that all cultural expression that supports the Revolution would be permitted.”

    This is the Cuba many Cubans have historically fought for, so the real outliers are not the young, educated Cuban independent artists and journalists but those communist elites so immersed in their intransigent ideological pursuits they have become blind to beneficial change suggested by Cuban youth for the betterment of all Cuban citizens.

  • The Spirit Of the Regular everyday Cuban has been Crushed, Crushed to the Point of lost or Losing a Battel that was Never theirs & it has for some time Now, It is taken there Health to a Level we would Never wish on our worst Enemy. When Nations can No Longer think of permitting a Truce, Then Yes you Have Hit the End of that Dead End Street & Casualties will be the Families of the Cubans that Never Turned there Backs when asked To Serve for there Children,s Land & Nation, Over 60 yrs, History can not Repeat for there Next Generation, That Cubans will Not Truly Except. The Retirement OF A Revolution Cubans Will Except. This Canadian Has Stood in your Bread Lines & I Do Share your Feelings, I Have Shook Hands with a 85 plus age Man That Gave Far more for his Country then his Family will know in Return, He Now Never Speaks when he Carried More for his Country then his Share, That is when I Learned of the Healthy Spirt of Cuba Past. His Sister explained why Brothers & Her where committed, there Family was Hide out for more then one growing season in the Cane Fields from the Days before the Revolution. Those Days will Never Return Its Time The Revolution Trusted & Respected The Families who Need there Spirit Returned. This is What Happens when a Canadian Walks To Far & Shares To Much of Family Cuba, They Start To Care For all the People.

  • Very sad to see the Cuban people struggle as I have made many friend there over the years…My wish is for them to smile all the time as they smile upon seeing us. Cubans are beautiful people .. free them..

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