I See a Consumer and I Draw My Gun

Shopping in Cuba

Por Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

HAVANA TIMES – The impossibility of going shopping for a day in Cuba without hostility is one of the biggest achievements of “real socialism”. A daily battle that has turned the services culture into a culture of abuse, which we find ourselves forced to practice in every possible way.

Fundamental values in any purchase/sale today have been completely displaced. We’re no longer talking about friendliness or courtesy, even basic attention towards the customer is considered a privilege.

A Colombian friend told me that he feels more like a survivor in his own country than he does a citizen. We could say something along the same lines: we are everyday survivors of humiliation and abuse. For now, we have been earning a continental reputation with this growing culture of abuse towards the consumer, the young child of narcoculture and organized crime, which lie hidden in this form of “lesser” violence.  

Another turn of the screw for the social disorder that the demagogic search for equality has left behind. From a widespread workers’ movement and a privileged State bureaucracy, we have reached this tangled web of social classes and status. Very little of the altruistic myth of the new man permeated society, and a lot of ancestral selfishness was kept.

We are in the same boat we’ve always been: exploitation, discrimination and revenge in civil society; but in one way or another now, all mixed up. Today, the contradiction of classes, the struggle for status and definition of social roles is drifting, emerging here and there as a paradox of an authoritarian system in decline:

– Paying for a service and receiving it as if it were a handout.

– Public transport like a boxing ring of visual contact.

– Middle class with marginal culture.

The merchant like a bird of prey with time in their favor, facilitated by shortages and widespread poverty. Waiting, always waiting to prey on the customer. Using them to redeem the confusion that a bureaucracy creates, which satanizes their economy and their heritage. The consumer like a ruminant tied up who has to chew on a dry and poor nutritional grass, which is tossed to him in a grumpy fashion.

A deadly choreography in which those who make a deal against society (black market and State) claiming a hostility that isn’t really what they say it is. Consumer rights are the real enemy of both of them.

The State supplies resources and the black market’s ethics organizes an illegal supply that compliments the mere survival that government logistics offer us. All of society is being taken over by values of organized crime, marginal activity and a culture of poverty.

Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government speaks about rescuing a services culture, when we are reaching rock bottom in this regard right now. A process of acculturation with complete immunity is being enforced on us.

Let’s see it as the dissipation of a feeling of wellbeing even in the most trivial and fleeting situations we can imagine. Spending money might be considered a provocation in this country.  

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.



7 thoughts on “I See a Consumer and I Draw My Gun

  • Very interesting observation when Yenisel Rodriguez comments:
    “The merchant like a bird of prey with time in their favor facilitated by shortages and widespread poverty. Waiting, always waiting to prey on the customer.”
    In Cuba there is only one merchant – GAESA, the brain-child of Raul Castro Ruz. It is GAESA as the sole importer and GAESA as the sole merchant that preys upon the Cuban customers.
    Forget the few who sell in the markets – their pitiful prices are dictated, and those involved in the mercado negra are glad to earn a few pesos from that which they have purloined from the GAESA and state operations.
    Yenesil Rodriguez is correct when he writes of: “a culture of poverty”. For that is the purpose of the Castro communist regime – to create that “mass” over which they can exert total power and control.

    Reply
  • State control of everything have proven to be a failure. It’s better to get more people involved in the economic process of Society giving the individual incentives to create new ways of satisfying the consumer which in the end we all are, never mind your status in Society.

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  • Communism from its inception in the Russia of the Bolsheviks gave rise to equality. Whereas duirng Czarist Russia there existed the inequality of the rich, the middle class, the lower poorer middle class and the destitute, Marxist-Leninist Russia gave rise to one class of people: THE DESTITUTE. Today Cuba fares no better. Cuba today is composed of people who are desperately earning the equivalent of under THIRTY American dollars a month. Those are retired make half that. And a privileged few make double that. Doctors and the elite may pull in as much as a whopping SIXTY dollars per month. Such desperation have pushed girls into prostituion and doctors, and university graduates find themselves scrounging for menial work as porters, taxi drivers and as slaves of foreigners that arrive waving Euros and Dollars in hand. It is sad that in pre-1959 Cuba there existed some prostitution; even sadder that in 2019 all of CUBA is one big brothel being run by one MAFIA family: THE CASTROS!

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  • Just one small correction Azay Delay. You say that pensioners receive half of thirty dollars per month – actually it is 200 pesos which is $8 per month.

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  • I always hesitate to state the blindingly obvious……
    But I feel that in the light of this article and the ensuing comments, stating the obvious is in this case, overwhelmingly necessary:
    If anybody, Cuban or otherwise, thinks that ‘merchants preying on consumers’ or prostitution are phenomena specific to Cuba or to non-capitalist societies, they are very deeply deluded.
    And anyone who thinks that a complex set of ailments can be remedied by one simplistic little cure-all is surely the kind of vulnerable prey most at risk of being eaten alive by those very same merchants…….

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  • Nick your argument is the same one I use “tongue in cheek” for people I know who for some reason oppose US president Trump. I tell them: “You should be happy to have him because there are worse rulers in some non-capitalist societies and they stay for life if they can.” However, it doesn’t work, and they keep on criticizing dear Trump. I call your logic the politics of the lowest common denominator as the catch-all justification.

    Reply
  • Mr Anti Imperialist,
    Congratulations for spotting that my comment was ‘tongue in cheek’ (or perhaps commiserations for not spotting this ?)
    trump is not fit for the hitherto noble and esteemed office of President of the USA because of various reasons. Not least being the fact that he is quite clearly psychologically unstable.
    His apparent popularity with around about a third of U.S. citizens seems to be based, to a large extent, on discriminating against people based on skin colour, creed, gender, culture, race or their simple ambition to do something for the common good.
    This is what I would term to be true lowest common denominator appeal.
    The fact that this Liar-in-Chief can only be successfully impeached by means of his own lackeys voting against him would appear (to the neutral) to be something of a flaw in the USA’s frequent assertion that it is a functioning ‘democracy’.

    Reply

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