A few days ago a man with an intense stare and a heavy walk showed up on my doorstep.
“Do you want to buy meat?” he asked, looking around cautiously.
“Meat? What kind of meat?” I immediately asked.
“The good kind, girl. What do you think,” he replied.
“Well if the ‘good kind’ is beef, then no, I don’t want to buy any,” I said.
“Then get lost,” he said with a crabby attitude, and he headed on tranquilly to approach my neighbors.
Some of them bought a few pounds, others didn’t have any money. Like me, a small group of them preferred to forego the pleasure of his savory veal.
I don’t know what prevented those other residents from buying meat from him; but as for me, I didn’t like anything about the situation. In the first place, the guy’s face rubbed me the wrong way. Secondly —though this it is only way to obtain that type of meat— to be accused of accepting it is something that’s not at all pleasant.
Anyone involved in receiving beef on the street can be implicated in a crime and fined up to 1,500 pesos (about $75 USD) or worse: you can go to jail for up to two years, which is much more serious. Just thinking about is enough to turn me into a vegetarian.
Every day, Cubans are tempted to break the law given the many shortages and low wages that keep us from purchasing food and other basic products. To buy any food illicitly is to effectively approve of theft or, worse still, to turn a profit.
The Cuban government tries to minimize the social impact of the economic crisis that the country has experienced for too long a time and which has forced thousands of young people to emigrate to unimaginable places or to steal everything from a piece of paper to a sliver of meat in order to survive.
We citizens of this island have to scramble to feed ourselves, but we have to be careful with what we buy, to not err, because what’s good for the liver is bad for the heart.