Yenisel Rodríguez

Eating in the private restaurant that you run yourself is an illegal act according to the Cuban state.

For that and other reasons there are hundreds of inspectors on the streets searching the mouths of the private food establishment owners for crumbs of the fried rice that they offer on the menu.

“But who does your cooking?” an inspector asks the owner of a mini-restaurant located on Tejas Corner in the Cerro municipality.

“Who cooks for me?” asks the confused owner.

Somewhat more astute, the owner’s mother, who has been listening in on the conversation from a short distance away, intervenes: “I’m the one who cooks for him.”

After the inspector has marched off, everyone is left dismayed. A lone thought occupies their minds: how far is this control going to go?

“It’s the blindness born of selfishness” the protagonist of an old Russian story would have clarified as the moral at hand.

You can also encounter inspectors who dedicate themselves to counting how many clients a barber can service in one day. The event occurs this way:

First, the inspector introduces himself directly to the barber. He asks him how many customers he sees in one day of work. An unnecessary question, since the same issue is reviewed once a month in the closest tax office. But even so, the barber needs to respond, he needs to give a figure.

A few days later, the inspector returns to the barbershop. This time he may watch the barber clandestinely. Hidden in the shadows produced by the bush on the corner he will count each and every person who visits the shop.

If the counts fail to coincide, the barber will be signaled out by the inspectors’ office. He will be fined for not being conscientious enough to pay his share of fees, the same as the owner who eats in his own restaurant.

A Total State is the most oppressive proprietary class in history. With its totalitarianism it annihilates its citizens’ public life, demanding that what should be part of normal community living be carried out in a very reduced space of domestic life.

For this reason the owner’s children won’t be able to sample the sweets that the grandmother makes in the restaurant kitchen. They’ll have to wait to get home.

The barber’s close friends will also have to wait for him to return home in order to be treated to a free haircut.

In this way the knot that is choking Cuban society is drawn ever tighter. It will continue reducing its dimensions until it can be cut in a single slice, guillotining the public life of 11 million people.


Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

2 thoughts on “Fined for Eating in Your Own Cafe

  • April 18, 2011 at 9:48 am
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    These types of contradictions are constantly born of the difficulty of trying to make Human Nature mesh with Socialism. A true Socialist State is difficult if not impossible to achieve or maintain in the face of most Humans desire to have more or to be more than their neighbors.
    This is exactly why a modified Socialist State is the only type that can ever peacefully coincide with the Genetic desire of all Humans to have more than they need .

  • April 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm
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    Yenisel, what you describe could only have been cooked up by those who wished to discredit socialism and make it nonsensical and unworkable. We in the US believe thatMarx and Engels must have been agents-provocateurs trying to destroy socialism from within through poisonous ideology. I don’t understand how some people think our view of Marx and Engels is bizarre, yet think that what you describe in this article is “real” socialism.

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