Candy, Dollars and a Steel Lollipop

By Jesus Arencibioa  (El Toque)

Foto: Sadiel Mederos

HAVANA TIMES – It spread like wildfire on social media. Some people initially thought it was a piece of fake news. For many reasons it seemed there was no way it could be true. But you only had to go to the original site where it had been posted to confirm its veracity. Published on September 18th, on page 3 of the weekly paper Venceremos – the Cuban Communist Party’s (PCC) official paper in the country’s far-east – the paragraph read:

“Guantanamo locals suggest that the manager of the US dollar store, on Los Maceo street on the corner of Prado, consider the possibility of moving candy on display in the glass window. The idea was to put another product in its place because it catches children’s attention. It’s very hard for parents to explain they are unable to buy some because they don’t have this currency. The little ones don’t understand so, they normally begin crying…”

Is this Cuba? Is this our country? many people asked, alarmed, sad and furious. Well, the answer is yes, it is. It is not only the same island we live and suffer on, but there was a second part to this drama. This one was even more interesting.

It came in the edition of the newspaper published on October 23rd, on page 2. The general manager of the Guantanamo CIMEX corporation branch replied to the unease of locals. Candy “visible in the glass window,” was relocated “to a place less visible from the store’s exterior.” The manager admitted, “because it’s true that it does catch the eye of children.” Additionally he said access to USD is limited for many parents and children don’t understand and start crying.

First of all, we have to thank the editor responsible for this section of the paper for including a complaint such as this one. Likewise, and even more surprisingly, the newspaper’s board didn’t cross out such an eloquent paragraph in red pen when reviewing the page. If it was a slip up, I guess someone is paying the price. If it was a dose of bravery, someone will be paying an even crueler price.

Sent in by Fuenteovejuna, the complaint, which is a pitiful whisper in essence, for the ranch owners to possibly, if it isn’t too much trouble, hide the banquet a little, so that the children of poor parents (the majority) don’t have a tantrum when they pass by and want the unreachable, and end up crying.

This demand, that only delicately insinuates – and doesn’t demand, call for, or denounce – is a precious gem in our normal standards of party-line press. For it isn’t common for social differences, backgrounds and classes to be portrayed so clearly. Something that makes visible what the dream of equality has become. A dream some leaders continue to proclaim from the country’s stages, with energetic but cracked voices.

Of course, the owners won’t like this, at all. How awful, what a lack of understanding and feeling of the historic moment for these parents and their children. The same goes for journalists, and people stirring things up on social media. These, they would say, are clearly encouraged, or better yet paid, in Imperialism’s gold.

How unpleasant it is that some people remember this cycle of dollarization. And even call it the second and sad part of the horror movie we saw in the ‘90s. That generations come and pass on, but our memories and some documents remain.

People read it, and compare. They get bored. They protest. Or leave. By the thousands. Later they return, with dollars, and buy candy to hand out among those who are only left with the headache of surviving.

How unfair it is that our leaders are being spoken about in this way on social media – these rowdy forums. How cruel they portray the head of the Permanent Committee to Implement and Develop the Guidelines (Marino Murillo) – a title that is longer than poor Cubans’ hope.

Recently he spoke on two roundtables and a long session at the National Assembly. Murillo explained that “nobody will be left helpless” when our national currency is devalued (even more). There is “no shock therapy” here in Cuba, only “adjustments”, he said.

He said people must work because over a million of the working-age population aren’t working. Meanwhile the savings, the little savings a teacher or doctor or any worker has been able to put away over their lives “loses its purchasing power”. However, “this is what’s happening in the world”, the official’s logic goes. Therefore, Cuba has to be on the same foot as the world – they’ve now discovered.

How inconsiderate it is of people to evoke an Orwell quote with this newspaper cutting. The one that says “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Or remembering other measures and stages and processes, which we were told were “transitory”, “temporary”, “necessary but not wanted”, like the “Special Period” itself, which is still in perfect health after 30 years.

The people who focus on only seeing the stains, when there is a radiant sun that shines on the mountains, really deserve a visit from our law enforcement agencies, or a rally of repudiation. Dissidents. Mercenaries. Lackeys. Worms. Annexationists. Trump followers. Bastards.

“All of the decisions the Revolution took, had grounds and were right at the time…” the proud head of the Commission tells us. Murillo has been meeting, analyzing, estimating, and designing a strategy for almost a decade. Furthermore, he calls upon all of us to fight the inflation on the horizon because controlling it at an administrative level will be hard. “Life has proven that it’s impossible to keep inflation repressed for a long time,” he said.

I can only think about a good friend and his metaphor of the steel lollipop. Which, every now and again, the country’s leaders dip in honey and put it in Cubans’ mouths. People believe that this is a real candy, a real sweet, the kind that is on display in the glass window. But after three or four licks, the hardness of the metal surfaces again.

The Cubans cry and throw a tantrum. They don’t understand that swallowing steel is the ultimate test for a true revolutionary.

Read more from Cuba on Havana Times.

3 thoughts on “Candy, Dollars and a Steel Lollipop

  • I can’t wait for Nick to comment. I guess I already know. The Imperialist north Whitt’s Blocked don’t allow this children to have the candies they want . Forgetting that if the family save they would not be able because theyget pay in different currencies. NIck . DUDE?

  • As a child, I had a story book about an Irish character named ‘Potato Murphy”. His repeated refrain was: “Laugh and grow fat say I.”

    As an obvious disciple of Potato Murphy, Marino Murillo has succeeded! He does not have to gaze longingly through the window at those goodies that are out of reach for the children of Cuba, but only has to consider where to buy a longer belt. As for his daughter, she can walk in to any store and buy the goodies – as she lives in the USA.

    Murillo is one of a trio of ever-expanding waistlines – his colleagues being Bruno Rodriguez and Miguel Diaz-Canel. Why would they seek change or practice economy?

  • Perfect irony.

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