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

  • October 31, 2020 at 8:21 am

    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

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