Missing Cows in Villa Clara, Cuba

Nearly seven thousand head of cattle

Por Daniel Benítez (Café Fuerte)

Cows on the road. Photo: Angel Yu

HAVANA TIMES — “Where are the cows?” This is the question the herders, authorities and police of Villa Clara are asking following a cattle recount conducted at agricultural and livestock cooperatives and State farms that came 6,934 animals short.

The investigation was conducted at 10 different farms, from November 2013 to the present. According a report published by Juventud Rebelde, the greatest numbers of missing cattle were in the municipalities of Manicaragua, Encrucijada and Sagua la Grande.

According to information offered by Pedro Yera, main expert at the Department for Livestock Registry, the loss of such a high number of heads of bovine cattle is owed, among other things, to the lack of control at these entities, which fail to conduct a monthly animal count, as established. In addition, the companies implicated invoke other reasons, such as unreported deaths and even statistical errors.

What’s certain is that, to date, there are no clues as to the whereabouts of the cows, though the journalist is optimistic and believes that some may appear in coming days.

The possibility that many heads of cattle may have been stolen and slaughtered illegally has not been discarded.

Lack of Control Mechanisms

“Whether the number of missing cows is larger or smaller, what no one can refute while we wait for the results of an investigation aimed at determining the specific causes of this and those responsible, is that control mechanisms are lacking,” the reporter pointed out.

Though it is not yet known whether the cows reported as missing include these, in September of this year the Ministry of the Interior in the province reported that, in the first 8 months of 2014, a total of 1,188 heads of bovine cattle were stolen and slaughtered, a figure which gives Villa Clara the third highest incidence of this crime in the country.

At the time, Vanguardia, the local Santa Clara newspaper, explained that, in most cases, the culprits remained unidentified and that 88 percent of the cattle belonged to the non-State sector.

Now, however, the provincial newspaper appears oblivious to these facts, as, this past weekend, it praised the cattle feeding campaign in the region, saying it has “brighter prospects than in previous periods” in terms of “ensuring the nutritive values required by animals at State farms.”

In Cuba, where beef is a nearly inaccessible privilege for the majority of the population, people tend to buy and sell the meat on the black market, and any news about the appearance or disappearance of beef cattle is concealed. It will therefore be very difficult for authorities to find the missing cattle, if they are still alive.


13 thoughts on “Missing Cows in Villa Clara, Cuba

  • November 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm
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    This is a story which cries out for the classic economics joke about cows:

    Feudalism: You have two cows. The lord of the manor takes some of the milk. And all the cream.

    Pure Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

    Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one of your cows and gives it to your neighbor. You’re both forced to join a cooperative where you have to teach your neighbor how to take care of his cow.

    Bureaucratic Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as its regulations say you should need.

    Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

    Pure Communism: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

    Russian Communism: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

    Communism: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for you share of the milk, but it’s so long that the milk is sour by the time you get it.

    Dictatorship: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

    Militarism: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

    Pure Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

    Representative Democracy: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

    American Democracy: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair “Cowgate.” The cows are set free.

    Democracy, Democrat-style: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being so successful. You vote politicians into office who tax your cows, which forces you to sell one to pay the tax. The politicians use the tax money to buy a cow for your neighbor. You feel good. Barbra Streisand sings for you.

    Democracy, Republican-style: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You move to a better neighborhood.

    Indian Democracy: You have two cows. You worship them.

    British Democracy: You have two cows. You feed them sheep brains and they go mad. The government gives you compensation for your diseased cows, compensation for your lost income, and a grant not to use your fields for anything else. And tells the public not to worry.

    Bureaucracy: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

    Anarchy: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to kill you and take the cows.

    Capitalism: You have two cows. You lay one off, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when she drops dead.

    Singaporean Democracy: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed farm animals in an apartment.

    Australian company: You have 2 cows. You go make some lunch and come back. You have no cows. As your land has been taken by the local mining authority, your cows are now sitting in a Chinese Nuclear Reactor.

    Hong Kong Capitalism (alias Enron Capitalism):
    You have two cows.
    You sell three of them to your publicly-listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute an debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows.
    The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Isands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows’ milk back to the listed company.
    The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
    Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the Feng Shui is bad.

    Environmentalism: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

    Totalitarianism: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

    Foreign Policy, American-Style: You have two cows. The government taxes them and uses the money to buy a cow for a poor farmer a country ruled by a dictator. The farmer has no hay to feed the cow and his religion forbids him from eating it. The cow dies. The man dies. The dictator confiscates the dead man’s farm and sells it, using the money to purchase US military equipment. The President declares the program a success and announces closer ties with our new ally.

    Bureaucracy, American-Style: You have two cows but you have to kill one of them because the government will only give you a license for one of them. The license requires you to sell all your milk to the government, which uses it to make cheese. The government pays lots of money to store the cheese in refrigerated warehouses. When the cheese spoils, the government distributes it to the poor. The poor get sick from the cheese, go to the emergency room, and are turned away because they have no health insurance. The President declares the program a success and reminds us that we have the finest health care system in the world.

    American Corporation: You have two cows. You sell one to a subsidiary company and lease it back to yourself so you can declare it as a tax loss. Your bosses give you a huge bonus. You inject the cows with drugs and they produce four times the normal amount of milk. Your bosses give you a huge bonus. When the drugs cause one of the cows to drop dead you announce to the press that you have down-sized, reducing expenses by 50 percent. The company stock goes up and your bosses give you a huge bonus. You lay off all your workers and move your production facilities to Mexico. You get a huge bonus. You contribute some of your profit to the President’s re-election campaign. The President announces tax cuts for corporations in order to stimulate the economy.

    Japanese Corporation: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You teach the cows to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Your cows always get higher test scores than cows in the U.S. or Europe, but they drink a lot of sake.

    German Corporation: You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year and are very expensive to repair.

    Russian Corporation: You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count your cows and discover you really have five cows! You have more vodka. You count them again and discover you have 42 cows! You stop counting cows and have some more vodka. The Russian Mafia arrives and takes over all your cows. You have more vodka.

    Italian Corporation: You have two cows but you can’t find them. While searching for them you meet a beautiful woman, take her out to lunch and then make love to her. Life is good.

    French Corporation: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want another cow, more vacation and shorter work weeks. The French government announces that it will never agree to your demands. You go to lunch and eat fabulous food and drink wonderful wine. While you are at lunch, the airline pilots and flight controllers join your strike, shutting down all air traffic. The truckers block all the roads and the dock workers block all the ports. By dinner time the French government announces it agrees with all your demands. Life is good.

    Political Correctness: You are associated with (the concept of “ownership” is an outdated symbol of your decadent, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender. They get married and adopt a calf.

    Counterculturalism: Wow, dude, there’s like . . . these two cows, man. You have got to have some of this milk.

    Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

    To which I add this version:

    Cuban cattle: You have two cows, both belong to the government. One wanders off and gets hit by a truck. The government inspector is called, but before he can come, your neighbours steal the carcass. You go to jail. Your other cow is stolen by the police oficer, who sells it to his cousin who has a paladar where the cow is eaten by Canadian tourists while praising the marvels of Cuban socialism.

    Then John shows up and informs everybody, it wasn’t a real cow.

  • November 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm
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    As you know, I oppose the embargo because I consider that it is counter to US interests as it provides the Castro family regime a political 2″ x 4″ to utilize as a reason for all their sins errors and incompetence. It isn’t the embargo that annually reduces Cuba’s agricultural production.
    Let Cuba lead the way by relaxing its policies affecting human rights and freedoms, then we can all urge the US and Cuba to negotiate regarding freedom of the media, freedom of expression, freedom to demonstrate, freedom to employ more than one person and freedom to form political parties.
    Punishment of the Cuban people is a day by day practice of the Castro family regime. By controlling everything they force the people of Cuba to bend to their will, to accept the miserable pittances described as earnings.
    I repeat what I have explained previously. If you place a cardboard box on the pannier of your bike, go to the empresa and following the wait purchase 25 200 gm loaves of bread, then cycle around town shouting out “pan” “pan” and selling them for 6 pesos each, you earn as much as a school teacher with a Masters degree.
    The Castro family regime through its military control runs all the shops. No toilet paper for 3 weeks in a city serving approaching 100,000 people. No coffee for 5 months, but complaining that the embargo is preventing them selling the stuff to North America. Purchasing chicken from Brazil, Mexico, Canada AND the USA! Such are the consequences of the regime – NOT the embargo!
    No Terry, there is no flexibility within the system of “Socialismo”. It is about total control and the embargo aids that control.

  • November 24, 2014 at 10:50 am
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    Carlyle, I want many of the same things for Cuba as you do, and that of many others who post here regularly too. Where I disagree with many is the way and means in which the US government has been attempting to bring about change in Cuba to realize that wish list. Free Cuba of US intervention first, and I’ll be at the front of line campaigning with everyone else for the Cuban government to then relax it’s policies affecting human rights and freedoms. Until that time, I’ll always see US government interventionist policies in Cuba as doing more harm than good…and only punishing the Cuba people rather than the Cuban government.

  • November 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm
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    You can bet that if the cows were privately owned, they would be tended daily and counted. The unfortunate thing for these poor cows was that they were owned by the State. Marino Murillo could have done more for the economy by physically counting cows daily than by sitting at Party meetings explaining the next five year economic plan.
    Maybe they have only strayed to greener pastures and maybe emagicman has given a clue!
    Hands up those in favour of initiating “The Great Cuban Cow Search”
    One thing is certain, unlike the Vermont pigs, they can’t catch a Greyhound, have to make do with a Yutong bus operated by Viazul – book your tickets and pay with CUCs girls!

  • November 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm
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    Oh Terry!
    You have swallowed all the Socialismo junk, hook, line and sinker’. The US embargo – which you may recall, I personally oppose, has not been “torturing the Cuban people”. The Castro family regime is responsible for its decisions and actions, not the US.
    install human rights (as defined by the UN), allow the formation of alternative political parties, allow free open democratic internationally winessed elections and freedom of the press.
    That is within the power of the Castro famniloy regime. It, not the people of Cuba, chooses not to take those actions!
    Which of those proposals which I have listed do you oppose?
    The “normalization” to which you refer lies within the power of the regime.
    Cubans want to have a better life and the Castro family regime could permit it – if it chose to do so! The poverty, the eyes and ears of the CDR, the food rations, the limitation and control of communication are policies of the regime. Get it?

  • November 21, 2014 at 11:52 am
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    As far as I can tell, Moses’ anti-Castro position is not at all “twisted” it’s very straight forward and consistent.

    What I find twisted are the arguments of those who claim to support human rights and democracy, but who also defend the Castro regime in Cuba.

  • November 20, 2014 at 6:35 pm
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    Perhaps these missing cows of Villa Clara have joined the missing pigs of Putney (Vermont), the subject of an endearing illustrated children’s story–“The Great Pig Escape” (and its sequel, “The Great Pig Search”) which I used to read to my daughters when they were younger. If I remember correctly, these very bright pigs escaped from a farmer’s truck, donned dark glasses, hats, raincoats and other such human apparel, and, so disguised, caught a Greyhoud bus passing through town, and were never seen in town again (although from Florida they sent an anonymous post card to the farmer with only one word: “OINK!”)!

  • November 20, 2014 at 5:27 pm
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    “These guys only respond to strength and power”…oh that’s right…that’s why your embargo and Helms-Burton act have worked so well. I mean…50 years of torturing the Cuban people…and for what? So you can brag that the US are the tough guys…staying the course…taking no guff from your so called little banana republic? Moses, Cuba is not America…it will never be America…stop thinking that it will be like America some day…it just isn’t going to happen, nor should it with or without the provocation of US government policy.

    Moses, if you don’t support respectful negotiation for the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba, then no, you are anti-Cuban, and you aren’t supporting your in-laws as much as you could be. You’re failing them…whether you realize it or not. Sending them care-package is merely a band-aide. That’s not what your in-laws need.

  • November 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm
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    Thanks at least for recognizing that my comments are anti-Castro. So many of your pro-Castro cohorts here at HT accuse me of being anti-Cuban and nothing is farther from the truth. As far as “doing a great disservice” to my in-laws, as luck would have it, it was just this morning that I dropped off the monthly care package at the home of a local “mule” who makes monthly trips to Cuba carrying stuff from West Coast Cubans to their families in Cuba. Of all days, today is not the day to accuse me of that. This package includes blood pressure medicine for my wife’s grandfather. Without this medicine he would likely have a stroke and die. The same medication is available in Cuba but at a price per monthly dose 4Xs grandpa’s 8 cuc monthly pension. It also included hair care products from Brazil that, when available in Cuba, are 5-6X more expensive. My sister-in-law sells this stuff to her hairdresser friend for three times her 25 cuc monthly salary and free hairstyling! And a bunch of other silly crap absolutely necessary to my Cuban family. Did I also mention the cash we send every month? Don’t tell me I am doing a disservice to my family. Sensitive subject. Here’s the bottom line Terry. You continue to believe that freedom will come to Cuba if only the US would back down and play nice. No dictator, no third world banana republic thugs like the Castros have every given up power because they were treated “nice”. F*ck that Terry! These guys only respond to strength and power. It is you that needs to learn something.

  • November 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm
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    I bought half a hind of res on the bolsa negra… and 26 pez and a dozen langosta too when I was last there. So what…whoopty doo. It’s no secret where the missing cows have gone. Much more distressing is your continuing arrogant attitude and that of your government’s. Keep it up, Moses… while you think you’re being cute, you’re actually doing a great disservice to your inlaws, and to all Cubans for that matter, by continuing to promote your twisted anti-Castro propaganda that can only help to negate the possibility of establishing respectful negotiations to benefit all concerned. You’ve learned absolutely nothing. Atta boy, Moses.

  • November 20, 2014 at 12:24 am
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    LOL. I don’t know why I just flashed an image of a herd of cows swimming the Florida Straits toward Florida.

  • November 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm
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    Maybe the cows defected and are now playing for the MLB?

  • November 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm
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    Hahaha! Those cattle-rustling Cubans! How do you lose 7,000 cows? You simply can’t make this stuff up. Of course they were stolen! The last time I was in Cuba, I bought 10 lbs. of steaks for my in-laws. I bet I ate from one of those 7,000 missing cows myself! By the way, have you ever seen Cuban cows. Not exactly Hereford beef. How can you expect the US to sit down and negotiate seriously with a banana republic that can’t even keep up with their cows. What a bunch of losers those Castros.

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