The Twisted Tree

Veronica Fernandez

Cojimar. Photo: Caridad

For some time now I’ve been observing a situation that has become a constant in my place of residence, Cojimar (a suburb situated to the east of Havana bay).

When I head out to the agricultural market to buy a few items, I have to pass by a bakery located just a half block before my destination. I always come across the same situation: a cart pulled by a horse, driven by a man with torn and dirty clothing.

This cart is full of plastic baskets totally uncovered, which this man with his dirty hands then fills with bread. When they’re full he goes off to distribute this bread to the children in schools and day care centers.

The spectacle of the flies circling back and forth between the horse and the bread underscores this totally unhygienic atmosphere whose goal should be that of offering a daily snack or lunch supplement for this new generation.

How many times have I asked myself when passing by this place and observing this situation, about the illnesses that these children and all the people who eat this bread could develop? How many people have watched this outrage and have done nothing?

How many supposed inspectors does the state maintain in the field of commerce and food services, earning a salary and obtaining other illicit profits, but who don’t want to see what is so evident to all or sanction that which is in front of their noses?

How many times has it been said aloud that we are a medical power, and how much does it disillusion us to witness these things?

During my whole life I’ve heard the phrase from Jose Marti that children are born to be happy and for that reason they should be cared for, educated, etc. We are accompanied constantly by campaigns in the mass media for the healthy development of our children and youth, and again I ask myself: Is it possible to generate some response to events like this one?

If it’s not possible to eradicate such a disgraceful and unhealthy panorama, what hope can we have of solving other, worse ills? You can’t play with people’s health.

Would it be so difficult to cover the bread rolls? But in addition, with this same horse-cart, instead of assigning it to making food deliveries, they could put it to the task of picking up the garbage, since sometimes more than 15 days go by while the garbage accumulates, giving rise to yet another source of contamination by harboring mosquito larvae and spreading other illnesses.

The truth is, you don’t have to attend the university nor be a genius to notice that which is in our power to solve. My grandmother who loved to quote proverbs always said: a tree that is twisted will never straighten out its own trunk.

One thought on “The Twisted Tree

  • I love analogies, and this is a good one. But an analogy does not prove anything. It can only illustrate or argue a point. The point here seems to be that the socialist tree cannot untwist itself. But the Cuban tree is not necessarily as rigid and set-in-its-physiognomy as one might think.

    We are dealing with two things here, and it will be helpful to distinguish between them. The first is the socialist state power, put in place in the period 1959-61 and led by the PCC; the second is the socialist, state-owns-everything-productive mode of production put in place in 1968, when everything in sight was nationalized with sectarian enthusiasm. The question that seems to be raised in Veronica’s analogy is whether the PCC can, by itself, untwist its statist economic mode of production.

    The statist mode comes from a core concept that socialism means state ownership of all productive property. But this faulty concept has shown itself to be highly dysfunctional, especially in the long term. It has always led to the collapse of socialist state power, and a return to a capitalistic mode of production and capitalist state power. The twisted tree has always rotted and fallen down.

    This however wiil not necessarily the case with Cuban socialism. There is still a chance that the healthy comrades in the PCC might come to their senses, re-institute private property rights and a socialist cooperative mode of production, and save socialist state power and national sovereignty. The termites that have weakened the twisted tree might yet be shown the door. A a dynamic, democratic, workable socialist economy might yet emerge. Let’s hope so.

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