We are being married to chicken until death do us part.
By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — The weekly newspaper Tribuna de La Habana reported the government’s decision to sell chicken as the only meat option in the regulated (rationalized) extra food for special diets with a medical prescription.
Similarly, the 460 gram portion of minced beef per month for children up until 13 years of age has also been replaced by this aforementioned poultry product. This measure currently covers 12 out of Havana’s 15 municipalities and you can corroborate this for yourself by reading the information sellers normally put up at the bodega stores they run.
I’m talking about the food rations system, which is equal to all and therefore a symbol of the socialist project. In the beginning of the Revolution, half a century ago, this system covered a significant range of many products. Now, it represents a percentage of consumerism that is difficult to measure, given the fact that there is a hard-currency market and other forms of supply and demand sales, which depend on the earnings of each individual family. However, the subsidized rations remain an indispensable option for many Cubans who have to live off of a state salary, in many cases under US $20 a month.
People are therefore duly frightened because in the normal lines, while waiting to buy the chicken, more than one person has said: Whenever, a measure like this one suddenly appears, they present it as a temporary measure, but then it always ends up staying forever.
Government media have yet to comment on the subject. Not even salespeople, still called butchers although they don’t use their meat cutting skills for anything because, frankly, there isn’t any meat to sell, are saying anything. The truth is that fish used to enter the rations booklet, which was then put on standby for years, always replaced by chicken, until this year, the long interrupted promise that Cubans can savor the taste of the sea disappeared for good.
Historic memory recalls the famous “novena” (when items were handed out every 9 days instead of per week), which was implemented and maintained throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, until the early ‘80s. At least one beef steak used to be sold per person every nine days and a similar amount of second-rate quality meat. This disappeared 30 years ago and was replaced by what was called “the people’s chicken”, which is the only fresh meat that everybody has equal access to, outside of special medically prescribed diets.
That is to say, the feathered animal is slowly advancing forward and threatening to become the only meat millions of Cubans can taste, those who still live off of their measly average salaries set by the government, equivalent to around 20-30 USD per month, in CUC, Cuba’s official currency.
Which we could well summarize with the unfinished phrase “Chicken for…”:
Chicken for beef, currently 1 pound a month per person. Chicken for fish, before it used to be 3/4 pounds of this sea food, now it has been completely added to the other chicken in a single 1.75 lb monthly ration for every Cuban. And suddenly! Chicken for medical diets and the bird continuing to substitute other socialist products. This time the pound of beef implemented by the new president Raul Castro, with the aim of “reinforcing” teenage diets.
As no official explanation has been given, there is only speculation, people are giving their opinions and thereby corroborate statistics from the global food market, the scientifically called Gallus gallus is the most prolific land animal on our planet and there are currently approximately 13 billion of them. It is the cheapest out of all the traditional meats meant for human consumption.
Cuba continues to import the majority of its food. Chicken boxes are always identified by the classic “Made in” label which can be Brazil, Canada and even the USA.
According to the socialist motto of “doing more with less”, feathers will follow us until death do us part.