Making Money Off Ignorance, Using Innocence

Veronica Vega

HAVANA TIMES — The photo is of a so-called “hot dog” label (a kind of sausage which is widely consumed in Cuba), sold in hard currency among other meat products.

They are quite popular and are used to put together a quick meal and even the bread with “something” snack that mothers despair about improvising for their children’s snack at school.

But, what really caught my attention in particular on this “hot dog” package, was the model in the picture, a young girl.

As the message of the photo isn’t even that subliminal (if you want a healthy, beautiful and strong child, feed them sausages), I raised several questions:

  1. Do the model’s parents know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meats carcinogens for the human race?
  2. Does the girl who is innocently offering her sausage sandwich know this?
  3. Why is this essential piece of information not included among the other facts that appear on the packaging?
  4. Isn’t our Public Health Ministry speaking out against harmful food products which are being sold nationwide, at least the ones that have already been classified by the WHO?

Judging by what’s on the package, the offer is amazing:

Serving suggestion, appears right next to the piece of bread with a hot dog decorated with ketchup and mustard. Saturated fats: 0 kcal, total sugars 0 kcal, energy per packet 460…

A few years ago, because of complaints relating to teenagers roaming the streets and playing tricks during schooltime, the Ministry of Education introduced a session of back-to-back classes in secondary schools across the island.

This was a disaster in every aspect, because of overcrowding, because of the stress that silence created in teenagers without any other stimulus that wasn’t a boring curriculum, mainly taught via teleclasses, and also because of the shortages in food supply.

The government tried to resolve this last issue with a soy yoghurt, which is generally watered down, and a lunchmeat sandwich. On rare occasions, sandwiches were made with melted cheese, and these were better received.

I remember the dogs lurking outside the secondary school, where my son used to study, during this time, getting ready to pounce on the lunchmeat sandwiches that students used to throw out from the higher floors of the school.

The majority of these kids used to eat something their parents had brought in at noon, in plastic containers, which were handed in through the back door, almost as if it were a clandestine act.

I understand the happy situation for abandoned and starved animals, but every time I gave my dog some shavings of lunchmeat that used to come from school lunches, ulcers came out on its skin which secreted pus and really used to sting, and they only went away after treating her with antibiotics.

According to my doctor friend who I consulted for this piece, there is an unfortunate separation between what the market and health institutions offer in almost every country. Some well-developed countries such as Switzerland do make sure that foods classified as “toxic”, such as GMOs etc., aren’t sold.

I understand that every adult is free to eat whatever they want. However, the state-owned market shouldn’t be officially selling products that have been identified as harmful to our health, without the customer knowing this, and they should put a warning on the packaging like they do with cigarette packs.

And even though the product that led me to write this article was made in Mexico, with everything the Cuban government takes great pride in to protect children, they shouldn’t be using the photo of a little girl to promote a carcinogenic food product.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

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4 thoughts on “Making Money Off Ignorance, Using Innocence

  • Thank you

  • It’s a long story Moses. Way back about 1962, when Fidel was full to the brim of “los ideas”, he engaged Dr. Reg Preston from the Rowett Agricultural Research Institute at Aberdeen in Scotland to plan and organize a ‘beef’ program. Preston was well known for introducing so-called “barley beef” when ruminents were fed barley instead of forage. The beef in consequence lost flavour and was derided in Scotland.
    Upon arriving in Cuba, Preston busied himself and tried feeding cattle of sugar cane by-product. It didn’t work well. But he also established the agricultural college on the east side of Havana – which believe it or not remains. (Not much evidence of success).
    Eventually Fidel grew weary of his idea and abandoned it and Preston moved on to other fields.
    For me, the mystery is not only why there are so few cattle in Cuba, but why most of those that are visible are pathetic scrub runts – not much flesh on them and long horns indicating old age.
    Just trying to help, although I cannot in all fairness describe myself as: “a Castro supporter”.
    By 1988, Fidel took a flight across Santa Clara and described how looking down he could imagine 150 dairy farms being established there. Like so many of his pipe dreams, nothing came of it and his fertile mind moved on to other concepts. That’s what Fidel was good at. pipe dreams which came to naught, but in the case of Preston, there are empty beef lots scattered across Cuba to remind one of wasted financial resources.

  • Given all the open land for grazing, I can’t understand why the Castros can’t raise more cows. I’m told that sheep are even easier but the climate is more conducive to cattle husbandry. Can a Castro supporter weigh-in here? Why are there so few cows in Cuba?

  • It is more than difficult to ascertain the actual contents of ‘sausages’ in Cuba, but they are in general lacking in meat content. That which is cheapest is the guideline. Cubans cannot afford to be selective.
    I only knew of only one small shop in Cuba which bore a sign: ‘Caliente Perro’. It was about 40 yards along the street from the Iberostar Hotel in Trinidad, but I noticed in March that the sign had gone.
    Maybe some of the guests paying $350 per night and $35 for the buffet supper at the Iberostar decided to cut costs and sample Cuban hot dogs.

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