Alcohol in Our Veins

Text and Photos by Caridad

Sand Castles
Sand Castles

HAVANA TIMES, April 17 – They say it can be hereditary. If your father or mother suffers the persistent inclination toward alcohol, it’s highly likely that you too will follow down their path. In my family, almost all the men like to drink, sometimes too much and for too long. All of them love the Revolution, but they just can’t stop drinking-and they’re not the exceptions.

Judging from what I’ve seen with my very own eyes, in Cuba there are many families like mine, and a whole lot more of them have several members who are bigger fans of alcohol than my relatives.

In provincial towns and villages, it’s a tradition to spend the weekend cuddled up next to a bottle of rum. In the capital, the youngest to oldest find alcohol the perfect escape from stress, or the tool to break the day-to-day routine of life.

You can buy it in any snack bar. In many that might offer a sandwich or something for lunch, they’re sure to have cigars and rum, of one or more varieties.

Easier to buy than milk

The cornerstone of countless cultural activities is the sale of spirits, which drives the neurons mad and hamstrings a person from walking.


It’s cheaper than milk and much easier to find, if it’s been aged less than seven years. To get it, you don’t have to speak in whispers, unlike the milk that’s sold on the “black market” (verses that sold in hard currency in stores).


People drink in the street, on their front porches, at the beach, when shopping, at cultural events, alongside kids, in the morning, in the heat or cold, to have a good time, to cry, to fight, to make love, or to break up.

It’s there; why not take a shot?

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery

One thought on “Alcohol in Our Veins

  • Caridad,
    Thank you for your excellent piece on a most important, and usually hidden, subject.

    Actually rum is not that cheap when taking into account what the average family earns in national pesos. Yes, far too many Cubans–namely, men–drink far too much, and that also decreases one’s nutritious necessities and other human needs as well. We know that Russians under the top-down state socialist period that alcoholism was also epidemic and led to undernourishment in physical and mental health.
    So what is the cause(s)?

    My conclusion is that the main cause for escape into alcohol, or any other drug, is alienation. A human factor concommitant with capitalism, where one is alienated from one’s labour and in social ways as well. That dilemma has not been eradicated during Cuba’s half-century of socialist revolution, neither economically nor politically. I maintain, as did Che, that the major objective of revolution is, namely, to eliminate the causes of alienation and establish the material and spiritual bases for self-realization, connecting the individual with the collective, empowering the individual and the collective. Real socialism, real liberation from alienation, requires a conscious, concentrated process–initiated from the grass roots and supported concretely by its government bodies–to teach how the populace can become empowered and therewith collectively run the economic , political, cultural life. That, by definintion, requires the full eradication of bureaucracy and top-down decision-making.

    The fact is that no government, no ruling political party in the history of government has taken up that challenge and goal with vigor, and that is the main cause of continued alienation, passivity, depression and therewith the search for escape from reality through drugs of all kinds, including senseless reggætone noise, booze, drugs, and any other form of consumerist nonsense.
    Hasta la victoria siempre!

    Yours truly for a real revolution,
    Ron Ridenour

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