Cuba: Silence and More Hotels

Line for the store on 3rd and 70th Streets, in Havana’s Playa neighborhood, next to the construction of a new hotel. Photo: Kaloian.

By Monica Rivero  (El Toque)

Photos by Kaloian

HAVANA TIMES – Near the coast, you can only hear the sea. There aren’t any cars. There aren’t any people. People are standing in line. Silence is the noise of this ruin. Silence is a poor man’s gold, it’s rumored Chaplin used to say.

In today’s Cuba, People don’t go outside because they don’t have any money. People go outside to stand in line. People don’t make money because nobody is going out. Nobody is going out because businesses are closed. There aren’t any tourists. Businesses don’t open because nobody goes to them, because there isn’t anything.

People don’t move around because there are very few buses and there aren’t any collective taxis. Taxis don’t operate because there aren’t any takers. People are tired of standing in line. People wait in line with the hope of saving themselves a line in the future. They’re swapping tomorrow’s line with today’s line, without any guarantees. People stand in line without really knowing why, dragged by the promise of cashing their time in for something that might save them time later on.

There’s the line to reserve your place in line, a line to get your place in line, a line to get into another line or to be there when something comes in, it doesn’t matter what it is, any small little thing.

People aren’t producing because they are standing in line. People are working in line. Survival is their job. People are working to work, not to produce or live. People are wondering what each other carry in their plastic bags and what line they came from. People earn in pesos, but they have to eat in the US dollar priced MLC magnetic currency.

Cubans who have euros or dollars are on a low-cost honeymoon with the economy. State-run restaurants in old empty hotels are full of Cubans who were able to sell their foreign currency on the street to pay for food in national pesos, which was also paid for in foreign currency because the country doesn’t produce its own food.

Food in state-run restaurants in empty hotels is running out because Cubans go and eat and drink with pesos that which was paid for in foreign currency. It’s the first time that so many Cubans are eating and drinking in hotel restaurants. However, in reality, there are very few.

Happiness is there, around the corner. You can hear the construction going on on top of the silence, new hotels are being built for tourist ghosts of the future.

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