Rough Times in Cuba

By Jesus Jank Curbelo  (El Toque)

How much hunger is needed to reach the bottom? Illustration: SRT

HAVANA TIMES – A few days ago, Amanda wrote on her Facebook page:

Two women standing in line:

“Coronavirus has ruined everything”

“You can see poverty more now than ever.”

“This isn’t poverty anymore, this is misery.”

The line was outside a store in Playa. Anyone would think that this doesn’t happen here because it’s the most pompous neighborhood in the city. But it does. In Playa, people also wake up at the crack of dawn to hunt down food like cavemen.

The post received quite a few comments: it isn’t Coronavirus’ fault, it’s the Cuban government’s, and whatnot. People were saying it on Facebook, yes; but in real life, almost nobody cares who’s to blame.

They should though, because the Cuban people need to know what monster they’re up against so that they can look for the best way to defeat it. However, things are so bleak right now, that people can’t think in the long-term or with a clear head.

The only thing I can think about are those two women standing in a never-ending line, God knows since what time and to buy what. They also embody all of us sitting inside right now.

I can’t think about 2021 or even November – I don’t think anybody can – especially when I don’t even know if I’m going to survive the night. In order to survive the night, those women have to say that Coronavirus is to blame, that’s it and there’s nothing else to be said.

One of the women said that she makes coffee twice a day: once early in the morning for breakfast, and the other at noon, for lunch. The second time she makes it, she strains it with the dregs of the first batch. I do this too.

I take out a little bit so that it doesn’t overflow because half of it is spit chickpeas and it’s made 500 coffee pots explode. Some dark-colored water comes out that looks like Americano coffee. It doesn’t taste of anything, but it’s all we have because you can’t find coffee anywhere.

The woman said she has water and sugar for a snack. “And thank God I still have sugar,” she said. She makes the minced meat or whatever she has to make a proper meal in the afternoon, around 6 PM. One meal a day.

She sleeps early so that she can wake up very early and get in line. Next month, she’ll continue to do the same thing when sugar and coffee as part of the rations booklet come into the neighborhood store. Shrinking. Eating little bits so that she doesn’t wither away.

The situation right now is quite similar to the “Special Period” crisis of the 1990s.

I was thinking about what you said about sending a box of food. You told me that getting it wasn’t a problem in Mexico, in spite of money being hard to come by, and all of the jobs you’re doing at the same time.

At that time, I told you I didn’t need it, that I would get by but, seriously, I would like to have a hundred of those boxes to hand out. In the same vein, how I’d like to have a building for people who don’t have a home. I’ve written you about this before.

I’m like an NGO, haha, what kind of alien am I. The freezer is empty and I’m worried about others. I only have a bit of bread left that I’ll eat with the left-over grease from the minced meat I made last night.

And you sending me photos of tacos and extravagant cakes. Please don’t do that anymore. It gets on my nerves.

Let me get back to the point: if Playa is full of people like those two women (which I don’t doubt), just imagine people in Cueto, Alacranes, Puerta de Golpe, Diez de Mella, La Máquina, Alto Songo, La Lima, La Cuchilla… mud neighborhoods that will suffer historic hunger.

I’m in the same boat. I swear: I’m tired of talking about Cuba, of waking up in Cuba. I’m tired of looking at Cuba, analyzing Cuba, of never having wanted to escape and still not wanting to.

Dheformer, a rapper that reaches me, says that when there is hunger, everything becomes a war. Against coronavirus and whoever is ahead in the line. Against the reseller and against the US blockade. Against God too, for giving us stomachs to fill.

Cubans need to know what monster they are up against. In that way so they can look for the best way to defeat it.

Send – Click – Message sent.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

9 thoughts on “Rough Times in Cuba

  • The enemy of the Cuban people is the bad goverment. They export the crops the fish,sugar, tabaco,doctors and communist intelligence.
    They Cuban people are given animal gut’s as their source of protein.
    The enemy of the Cuban people is the fear they have to say stop NO MAS

  • Please stop blaming the embargo on what’s going in Cuba. When the Soviet Union had control of Cuba, if you had dollars with you, the tyrants will put you in jail up to 7 years, and they where happy then, after the Soviets left, the embargo started and the they are crying for the dollars. Cuba a country of PENDEJOS”

  • Sad and worse for those of us with family. We are going broke taking care of them, like their government should.
    It makes me angry every day.

  • I feel for the people of Cuba. I have friends and family there. Every community has special challenges to face. It is a global pandemic. I admire the effectiveness of the Cuban people in mitigating the harm and scourge of COVID there. What Cuba has done can not be dismissed so handily. In fact the successes there make the USA look primitive and backward as we are projected to suffer more than 300, 000 deaths by the end of the year. The sanctions placed on Cuba by my government along with the multi- decades embargo harms the people; breeds destruction and serves as a political ploy more than anything. Lets look honestly at the whole picture and stop using people lives to serve narrow political aims.

  • Vietnam is a comunist
    country like Cuba and the Vietnamese peoples have a dignity with dignity and without lack of resources and without the needs to emigrated to others countries because issues like is happening in Cuba.
    But the Vietnam country is no facing the hate from the abusive USA government .
    Probably Vietnam haven’t the same economic sancións that that the Cuban peoples are facing because already the USA government have already collected the blood from more than 4 millions of inocents Vietnamese peoples in the decade of 1970 when for the same motivation USA feel for Cuba that genocidal government murdered all those millions of inocents Vietnamese citizens.
    In Vietnam USA use more bombing than in the WW2 but in Cuba they are trying to erase the population using other genocidal tactics ways.
    Probably have been better USA use the first genocidal system in Cuba so the suffering were lesser and faster.

  • It is because the US government wants Cuba to exploit its people and resources , they will not stop their insanity until they win, they don’t care about any of the Cuban people only their own greed.

  • I feel for the Cuban people under control of the government in such a beautiful country,the hunger for power is first and foremost in that country and it should be the power to feed these people throughout this pandemic,its very disheartening.I know this when i return to Cuba next month i will e taking as much as i am allowed on the plane for the people i have made many friends in Cuba and i will help however i can,whenever i can. Stay safe my Cuba family.Stay strong.

  • I can see another rebellion coming but only if the Cuban people have the stomach and courage for the fight. Enough is enough, you can’t just stand back and watch your children and your life collapse before you. What have you to loose if everything in your life is already gone, dignity, self worth, human values, loyalty, patriotism when the government you support has manufactured the situation. Time for change and only a collective people with courage can make that change.

  • Cubans are becoming increasingly aware that the monster that bestrides Cuba is the Castro communist regime. Covid is but a cohort exacerbating the problems willfully developed over sixty one long dreary years. It doesn’t have to be like this, there are alternatives, but all are dependent upon terminating the egotistical ugly monster, with its its insatiable grasp for power and control.

    Corona virus will eventually be overcome, if only the same could be true of the monster – the Castro regime.

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