An anonymous letter to Minister Jorge Tapia:
It is an honor to write to you. I follow you on all your trips to the interior of the country (you never invite me, but journalists always cover your visits). I am constantly amazed by your comments in the check-up meetings, in which you make it clear that Cuban citizens are a group of inept people who do not know how to interpret the wise guidelines that you and your fellow guests of protocol houses leave time and time again in the provinces. Even my little five-year-old son sits down to watch you —forced by his parents— and then he can’t sleep because of the trauma from you shouting at the idiots in the provinces.
I listened attentively to your report on the implementation of the Food Sovereignty Law. I take this opportunity to ask you if that document does not contain sanctions for those who fail to comply with it. If we stick to the food situation, some leaders should have been imprisoned for a while now (not you, ousting you would be enough).
Your idea of raising fish in our homes is not bad, I haven’t eaten anything that moves underwater in a good while. My lack of phosphorus allows me to go into any fire and come out with only my scorched clothes. But I beg you to contact Gerardo Hernández, the one from the Revolutionary Defense Committees, so that you come to an agreement to deal with the mess. That guy, at the head of the mass organization that contradictorily brings together people of flesh and bones, went around our neighborhood handing out watering cans. We installed ours as an annex to the old ammonia tank that we put in the patio to collect water and it serves as a shower that relieves us on the days when there is no water in the pipes, which occurs on most days.
We followed the orientation of sowing the little piece of space available so seriously that my husband and I are a reference of the Urban Agriculture Movement. We obtained the recognition at the cost of many sacrifices. When planting beans in our closets, the clothes had to be thrown on the shelf under the kitchen table, until the chives that sprout there soared.
We put my grandmother in the stairwell that leads to the rooftop terrace, a little shrunken, but happy to cooperate so that a record harvest of a Burundian cassava variety that my son brought back from his medical mission could be possible. I’m not going to tell you about the crisis in my marriage: my husband refuses to accept that he turned over the frame of the bed to make a nursery for original sorghum seeds from Bujumbura, the capital of that far off African country.
On the roof I can’t even hang clothes. My sister came up with an experimental black cranberries growing plan (my son didn’t care), she says they are good as a snack or sweetener. She did it in secret, so that the Oficoda rations control office wouldn’t find out and cut the pound of sugar they sell us each month. Well, Frei Betto came by, praised the project, and gave him a packet of potato skins that we threw at the pig in the living room, behind the television.
The Brazilian theologian had no mercy on Canelito — that’s the name of the boy, he was born the day the president (Miguel Diaz Canel) took office. Who would think of giving a kid that has not passed first grade the “need to carefully teach toddlers the usefulness of each organ and liquid in the process of ingestion and digestion”? The kid was speechless, and since no one argued that the friar was referring to human beings, yesterday, after hearing your speech in the National Assembly on the implementation of the Food Sovereignty Law, he stuffed the fish with vitamins that an aunt sent us from Ratnapura, Sri Lanka, where she emigrated a year ago. I suggested to my son that he also feed them the slop that is given to the pig, but Betto’s sermon was too strong for the poor boy.
By the way comrade Tapia: I don’t have space for a four-by-four pond to raise fish, but if you talk to the Minister of Construction and they provide us with thirty cement blocks, we can wall up the shower area and throw in the bullfrog fingerlings that we collect from a dam in Cauto Cristo. The neighbors will be furious when they see us half-naked on the balcony —the only virgin space in the apartment— throwing jugs of water on us.
I reiterate my admiration for your wisdom —nothing to do with the toads that we will soon have on the table—, and your concern for feeding the people with situations quite different from your own.