In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
Published: Saturday 28 December 2019 | 09:52:20 pm
By Mileyda Menéndez Dávila, Odalis Riquenes Cutiño, Liudmila Peña Herrera, Javier Rodríguez Perera, Laura Brunet Portela, Iviani Padín Geroy, Zorileidys Pimentel Miranda, email: email@example.com
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The 2019 photo gallery is loaded with images that remind us of who we are and what paths we are on. We say “we are” in the present tense, because we understand that what we have experienced during the last 12 months has marked the national sentiment, the spirit and even the geography, in such a way that today, only hours before the arrival of 2020, it is very difficult to say “we were”, because much of what happened this year marks the paths or the roads that we must travel during the coming calendar year.
We must not forget that Cuba is the compilation of our daily poetry wrapped in kisses, sweat or tears, depending on its human beings and their circumstances. Cuba is the reality of each of our realities. Therefore, every achievement, every pending task, every goal – accomplished or to be accomplished – becomes the precedent for the next step.
A more than happy man
Héctor Prieto Caraballo knows this well. Only a month ago, he thought that the greatest happiness was limited to sunrise in the countryside, breathing pure air, working the land and enjoying its fruits.
That meant seeing his father, Héctor Luis Prieto, known as the Havana Man, happy, always glued to the ground to grow the leaves of what many call, not without justified chauvinism, the best tobacco in the world.
“Planting, picking tobacco, making bushes… everything is interesting, but planting is my favorite activity. Seeing that tiny stance grow gives me a very nice feeling because I can appreciate the results of my work,” explains Prieto Caraballo, a graduate of Técnico Medio en Agronomía.
But since last November 22nd, he knows that happiness is not only wrapped in green leaves, but it is also in the form of crying, gurgling, smiles, future. Happiness photography has a new and beloved face for the young man from Pinar del Rio.
“It is incredible the power that a smile of his has. A child is the most beautiful thing you can have in life,” he says proudly, adding, “I feel like a more than happy man. This is a year I will never forget: my first child, my family, the results in production. Everything has been very good for me.
Creativity in the face of obstacles
The same cannot be said of the promoters of restaurants in Havana, cocotaxi drivers or other means of transport dedicated to tourism, room renters and business owners who were affected in 2019 by the intensification of hostile measures by the United States government towards Cuba.
For them, this has been the year of economic cutbacks, of mutilated profits, of applying creativity as a solution to the ban on U.S. cruise ship travel to the Greater Antilles. This is how Raidel Regaiferos Sánchez feels -because he has lived it-. He has been working for more than a year as a promoter of the restaurant Habana Boulevard, in the capital city.
“When I started working here, the restaurant was full almost all the time, like the rest of this type in Old Havana. But when Trump decided to have the cruise ships say goodbye to the harbor in the bay, many of the promoters changed jobs, since the pay depends on the consumption by the diners who come to the restaurant.
Faced with such a complex panorama, which translates into less income for the development of the non-state sector. Though Trump says that every measure tries to [only] affect the Cuban government, Raidel and his colleagues have no other option but to appeal to creativity and the reformulation of commercial strategies in order to “fall in love” with clients and not close the deal.
“Since then, we’ve had to update prices and update the menu, as well as implement other alternatives when it comes to promoting the site, and adding national consumers”. He says who would be happy if 2020 would bring longed-for opportunities to prosper, without measures “from outside” that attempt to destabilize “inside.”
Hope for many
Still in young Martha Regla Beltrán Boza’s memory is the devastating tornado that destroyed her home.
Photo: Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
Martha Regla Beltran Boza believed that 2019 would be the worst year for her and her family. They’re known as “the Many” because it is a nucleus with 24 people from three generations, all born and raised on the slopes of Lenin Hill, in Regla.
On the night of January 27, Martha had gone out to the street because she wanted to eat peanuts, but something in the air disturbed her and she ran back to bed with her mother. Minutes later, the roofs of the tiny wooden house fell on them, and behind them a nearby Yagruma tree, uprooted by the strong winds of the tornado that destroyed several areas in five municipalities of the capital.
“Now the family was really out on the streets,” he thought. Fortunately, a neighbor provided his small home so that a part of “los Muchos” would be aware of the recovery of the property, taken up by the Julio Antonio Mella contingent, which in this case became practically the entire onstruction, from the foundations, of three two-story masonry houses.
“They made us up to the entrance corridor, which until then was made of earth,” she says with relief. Today, she is in the third year of a pre-university educational program and dreams of soon joining a primary school classroom to teach literature, which is her favorite subject.
The usefulness of virtue
In Santiago de Cuba, the young hands of José Ruberlandis Vázquez Enrys, Sayonara Destrade Castillo and Indira Jardines Durán bear the mark of the effort to be useful in the face of the challenges posed by difficulties. Their energy and enthusiasm have been decisive in promoting the idea of food production parks, a Santiago-based initiative that is already recognized in the country for reproducing the artisanal practices of traditional gastronomy on a large scale, with a minimum of electricity and zero diesel fuel.
The alternative came to life in March 2019, in areas of the Ice Cream Wafer Factory. It’s located on Patria Avenue. Saltine cookies of various types and 100% rice cookies, candies of various shapes and flavors, homemade mayonnaise, cakes and pancakes, cassava and cassava frying, peanut and coconut nougats, pru, vinegar, sweet and dry wine, liquors, fruit and hard chilled ice cream, cassava, raspberry, Cuban pasta, instant soda, breads and sweets with flour spreaders. These make up a varied amalgam of products that are highly appreciated by the consumers who receive them. This is both in an Ideal Market and in cafeterias and points of sale in the Santiago food industry. Ruberlandis, Sayonara and Indira feel the satisfaction of having dedicated these last months to producing food for their people, using natural fuel: coal, firewood, bagasse and coconut shells. For them, 2019 can be summed up in two words: to be useful.
A “busy” year
“When the Young Communist League calls, when your university asks for a hand, when the president of the country himself trusts the young people and believes we can do more, then there is no one who is not motivated,” says Massiel Cano Garcia, a student in special education.
A pile of photos he has on his mobile phone show that 2019 was a very busy year: “It was full of proposals and opportunities to show who we are as young people today,” he says.
With his finger, he slides the snapshots of the productive activities that made his University one of the best: planting potatoes in the middle of a field, or giving away smiles at the pediatric hospital.
Massiel keeps memories of all those moments, to show that the energy of his youth is transmitted, transformed and produced. “Watching over the savings in the companies in my neighborhood was something I did to feel useful and help my country move forward,” he recalls.
“It wasn’t a question of reporting to anyone. We didn’t have plans or figures to accomplish in one day. It was just “making us feel”, making those who didn’t know how important it was to save aware of it. And she recalls that Prado went up and down in shops, bakeries, commercial establishments, companies and homes, inspiring people, winning hearts.
“The idea was to convince people that no matter how insignificant it might seem, a simple click also mattered,” says those who now dream of dedicating their lives to special education. “My greatest wish is to be a good teacher for children with special educational needs.
A high jump
For someone like Luis Enrique Zayas, who several times has considered not giving another drop of sweat for the sport he practices, still young but with several fiascos. This year has been a kind of Copernican turn for his life. With hardly any possibility of participating in the Pan American Games in Lima, almost ten days before their start, he was informed of their presence. Forecasts placed him far from the podium, but in the Peruvian capital the triumphant apotheosis took place.
It was on August 9 when the high jumper shattered all the speculations and became the biggest surprise of the Cuban delegation in Lima. He invaded the summit with the best of his life, a jump of 2.30 meters, three centimeters higher than his previous personal best, achieved in 2016 when, breaking the same predictions, he became the world youth champion.
“I concentrated a lot on the whole competition and that’s how that gold medal came out, something super big for me, my family and Cuban athletics. In the meantime, I qualified for the World Athletics Championships in Doha”, said the athlete from Santiago, who has realised that life is a stage of constant tests and he, as a “good actor”, emerged as a protagonist more than once.
In 2020, looking ahead
Diverse in nuances, complex because of the ups and downs and the obstacles; full of successes and sacrifices… 2019 is falling behind. Once again we close a cycle, but we remain with the list of what we have accomplished or what is still pending, in order to focus our gaze on what we want to mark our life since January 1st, always with the conviction that we hum along with the Buena Fe group: we will receive it “head-on” in 2020.
LA GUACAMAYA ROJA
by Marta López Fesser
December 17, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
*Free kindergarten for 2 years
*6 months paid maternity leave
*Paid paternity leave
Only 15 countries in the world have these 3 basic policies to facilitate shared parenting. Cuba is the only one in Latin America, it has the happiest babies in the world. reports UNICEF.
HAVANA, Cuba – When Juan Carlos and Maria decided to start a family three years ago, they knew there was only one way to raise children. “For a family to work, you need a team: that means sharing all the tasks and responsibilities,” says Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos, who would be a first-time father, did not yet know the intricacies of fatherhood, but he knew he had to be present. “There are things we can’t share, like the discomfort or the physical weight of the pregnancy, but I can be there for [Maria], so that we can learn together and share this journey,” he says.
Juan Carlos did his best not to miss any of Maria’s medical exams before delivery. At the consultation, the couple observed that most of the instructions and advice given them was directed directly to her. Juan Carlos had to insist on his interest in being taken seriously. He wanted to know what his role was, how he could help his son reach his full potential, but he didn’t know who to turn to.
Cuba is one of 15 countries with three basic social policies and programs to help mothers and fathers: free public preschool education for the first two years; a minimum of six months of paid maternity leave to facilitate breastfeeding; and 12 months of paid paternity leave after the birth of the baby.
For a family to work, you need a team: that means sharing all the tasks and responsibilities.”
However, despite these programs and policies, social norms and structural barriers in Cuba make it difficult for men to participate equitably in all stages of child-rearing. Only 18 percent of fathers participate in educational activities with their children during early childhood; only 33.2 percent of children under six months of age receive exclusive breastfeeding benefits, and only 125 fathers were able to take paternity leave between 2003 and 2014.
When Maria recently became pregnant with Oliver, her second child, she and her partner did everything possible to take advantage of the resources at their disposal. “You can never be prepared enough,” says Maria. “Being a mother or father means learning that what you do and what you don’t do has lasting repercussions on the development and happiness of your children. It’s a deep, vital reflection that encourages you to want to do things right from the beginning.
On this occasion, they learned that they had access to free childbirth classes. “They were very useful; we met other couples in the same situation,” she says.
They also knew that MarIa had the right to choose a person to accompany her in childbirth, and Juan Carlos wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. “For me, it was a vital and unrepeatable experience that I believe all parents should live. It’s hard to imagine the pain and sacrifice that women have to suffer,” he says. “That arrival commits you for life.
Juan Carlos learned about these rights and services through the communication materials of “Padre desde el principio,” [Father From the Beginning] an initiative led by Cuba’s Ministries of Education and Health with help from UNICEF. The aim is to engage fathers by informing them of their rights, responsibilities and the benefits of shared fatherhood in an equitable manner.
Maria exclusively breastfed her two children for the first six months of their lives. “It would not have been possible without Juan Carlos. It is true that I am the only one who can feed them, but Juan Carlos was the one who got up at night to bring them to me and who took care of the household chores.
Juan Carlos was also the one who stayed at home with his children when Maria’s maternity leave ended, so she was able to return to work. “It’s been a wonderful experience,” he says. “Having a role in [their lives] from the beginning gives you the security to take care of them completely, and enjoy it!”
Maria agrees: “He has not only taken on traditional roles, such as washing and cleaning, preparing food or caring for the baby: they have also spent quality time together, developing a parent-child bond that will be the basis of their relationship in the future.
The “Father From the Beginning” initiative promotes equal parental responsibility from birth, precisely because if parents are involved from the beginning, they are more likely to continue to be involved throughout their children’s lives. Parents who are actively involved from the outset not only demonstrate a greater commitment to protecting their children from violence and prioritizing their education and health: they also challenge deeply rooted beliefs and stereotypes of masculinity.
“At first, our neighbors thought that our way of raising our children was strange, but they no longer see it that way,” says Juan Carlos. “I see a change: younger generations are evolving.
By Tay Beatriz Toscano Jerez
July 17, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Surely the high temperatures of these days has evoked thoughts of having a beer to cool off. Perhaps you have decided to have a family reunion and, why not, taste a Bucanero or a Cristal. If you don’t change your brand (and quality), you have a very difficult time.
For some time now, it has been difficult to find the two emblematic beers produced domestically in the chain stores. However, in the private gastronomic establishments, restaurants, bars and/or cafés they are can always be found without problems and at a price that sometimes (according to “cache”) doubles their original price.
It’s really incredible: at 200% of their selling price, perhaps at 250% of their cost price. For someone who didn’t invest a drop of sweat in producing them. Only in Cuba.
What is the source of supply for those private “paladares” if, for example, in the TRD Caribe chain, only two boxes per person are sold (if the regulations were really complied with)? How many times should the waiting lines be or how many should accompany the owner of the restaurant in order to have a sufficient quantity to maintain their supply in a constant manner?
It is worth looking at this phenomenon, especially because it advocates not raising prices and because it causes equitable access to products of all kinds. Let’s remember that the country has already implemented measures of various kinds, including setting up a store for self-employed workers.
For none of us, it is a secret that there are not a few citizens whose livelihood depends precisely on being aware of how much is on sale in the CIMEX stores and the former TRD stores, in order to access as much as possible and then make a profit. Logically, however, they are not “fortune-tellers” nor do they have a particular information system that knows where things are and when.
They have their information system and their source of supply in the stores themselves. If not, how is it possible that they are almost always the first to acquire from an affordable price for the beers that have motivated this comment?
If not, the press will continue to denounce and, unfortunately, things will remain the same. This generates discredit, and not only in us journalists.
This can’t be the never-ending story. Nor does it deserve the disdain or lack of attention of all those who – in acting jointly – can and should close the way to this issue. Far from becoming a solution, has today become a problem since, on the one hand, access to beer is limited and on the other, it impacts strongly in the pocket of those who like the refreshing drink.
It is therefore imperative to enforce what has been ordered; to follow that skein that seeks to suffocate the normal course of the country’s economic and commercial processes and, let us reiterate, the pockets of the people.
It is clear that under no circumstances will the steep rise in prices be allowed; neither of the beers, nor of any other product necessary for everyone. It must not be done by the state or private sector. That is also a way of thinking as a country, thinking like Cuba.
May 8, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The authorities of Congo-Brazzaville decided to repatriate 142 students from that country who attend universities in Cuba, for “having violently claimed their scholarships” or recorded “deficient academic results,” was reported Wednesday to the AFP.
On the list of expellees are 66 students who had violently claimed their scholarship arrears at the Congolese Embassy in Havana at the end of March.
“These students crossed the red line. They behaved in an unexemplary manner. Even on social networks we saw one of them fighting with a Cuban policeman,” said Jean-Claude Gakosso, Congolese foreign minister.
“The Cuban authorities no longer want them in their territory,” he added during a dialogue with the parents of these students on Tuesday.
The second group is made up of 76 other students who will also be repatriated, but in these cases “for having recorded a succession of (academic) failures, both in medicine and in learning the official language of Cuba (Spanish),” according to Bruno Jean-Richard Itua, the country’s minister of higher education.
Gakosso recently returned from Cuba, where he led a large delegation. In Havana, he spoke with Cuban authorities. No date has yet been set for the return of the students.
“The safety conditions of these young people who will return to the country will be guaranteed. They will be immediately made available to their parents,” said Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mbulu.
As of last March, Congolese students in Cuba had accumulated 27 months of scholarship arrears, according to Itua, who said they were paid 12 months after the demonstrations.
In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency.
Correos de Cuba will put on sale in the course of next week in all its units and press stands, to the extent that it is available in the provinces, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Period of Sessions of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power.
The document will have a 16-page tabloid format and will be marketed through the national postal network at the price of one peso (CUP).
As reported, the new constitution will be submitted to popular referendum for ratification on February 24, 2019.
Institutional Communication Direction
Correos de Cuba Business Group
5 January 2019
This note translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Posted: Saturday 24 November 2018 | 02:21:56 pm.
Updated: Saturday 24 November 2018 | 02:24:25 pm.
Author: Leyanis Infante Curbelo
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
This edition of Havana’s Fashion Week began its fourth night with the largest influx of people to date, and opened the Havana weekend with one of the most interesting parades that have been presented.
Functionality, contemporary nods to tradition, diversity of materials and styles, characterized the proposals of the day, which closed with a golden brooch to climb on the catwalk a collective collection of wedding dresses by more than 10 designers.
As a tribute to the Matanzas poet Carilda Oliver Labra, Ismael de la Caridad presented a series of textile designs in which the exaltation of female eroticism and sensuality were the central axis. The use of transparencies, and the color black characterized the sample.
Also focused on the feminine universe, the fashion house Salomé decided to break the moulds of the formal jacket-pants set to resize it in an aesthetic context of the 21st century, accompanied by Laura Lis’s jewellery.
Two other collections focused on women. The first one, completely textile, in charge of one of the foreign guests, ElietteLesuperbe, from Guadeloupe Islands. Her proposal was divided into three fundamental parts, each guided by the use of a color: gold, representing light; red, for passion, and white, for purity.
The second belonged to the Baeza family, with a long trajectory in the area of leather goods. This time they offered a series of bags, wallets and accessories, in different formats and for different occasions.
In the masculine sector the young Yunior Hierro was located this Friday, with a series of guayaberas that managed to combine heritage and modernity; Maya Sierra, with a set of woven pieces, and the trinitarian project TRIEL, with classic and utilitarian linen shirts. All with a common line, to approach the contemporaneity, taking as base concepts and traditional materials.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the night were the NOVIAS, a sort of range of aesthetic possibilities for this special moment. The public was able to appreciate a wide range of designs close to fantasy, classic, alternative, youthful, daring, but, above all, national.
These are the images of the parade, by Maykel Espinosa Rodríguez.
October 20, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Maylén Díaz Almaguer, the only survivor of the airplane crash of May 18, is being assisted by a multidisciplinary group from the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital in Havana, with the participation of specialists from other institutions.
According to the doctor, the patient continues the process of recovery and stabilization of organ functions, oral nutrition and infection control.
Neurological rehabilitation measures and respiratory mechanics are also maintained.
The healing process of soft-tissue injuries is also consolidated, with good evolution and the emotional state and level of cooperation of the patient with the medical treatment is adequate.
At the request of the relatives, the parts relating to the evolution of Maylén Díaz Almaguer are kept private.
Since August 1, Diaz Almaguer has received treatment and rehabilitation in the Ameijeiras. Previously, she was cared for at the General Calixto García University Hospital, where she received treatment and rehabilitation.
The accident occurred on Friday, May 18, when the Boeing 737-200 of the Mexican company Damojh, rented by Cubana de Aviación, fell to the ground just moments after taking off from Havana’s José Martí international airport, in which 112 people, including the crew, lost their lives.
By Dr.C Juan Triana Cordoví
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
The apple is a noble fruit with bad luck. Eve used it with Adam and all humanity paid the price. The wicked queen gave it to Snow White to eat and it put her to sleep (true, then the Prince showed up). On top of that, one fell on the head of someone who was sleeping under a tree, the law of gravity appeared, by virtue of which all of us, although we float for a while, we fall.
It is also true that some people get back on their feet, but others, not even with a carne get back to a vertical position. There are also those who float perennially.
What follows is part of a real fact and a supposition. The real fact is that apples are not a commodity in Cuba or anywhere else. The assumption is that the “massive” purchase of apples in Cuba is not an act aimed at provoking some kind of political instability via hoarding.
As I said, my first reaction to seeing the news was to think like my grandfather, who was a winemaker in Güiro-a town between Quivicán and Gabriel. From that “merchant’s gene” I said to myself: magnificent operation.
If no act of corruption has occurred (lower prices, unbilled quantities, etc.), then those who sold the apples have managed to sell perhaps all their inventory at once. With this, in the first place, the turnover of committed capital increases. This, I believe, should positively influence the mass of profits then, it is good for the company.
Second, I say, La Puntilla has avoided having possible losses due to quality deterioration, which is also good for the company.
Third, the company can quickly and from that same income again buy apples! That non-tropical fruit that you like so much. That way you can quickly sell more in less time!
I recognize, however, that this is a very biased way of thinking that leaves aside the reality of the Cuban “market”. In fact, there is a resolution from CIMEX stores that prohibits selling more than a certain percentage of their inventories to a single buyer. It’s aim is to avoid hoarding, a resolution that is due to the “peculiar” way in which the Cuban “market” works.
From the perspective of the “apple consumer”, there are two situations: those who went to La Puntilla (a shop located in a place not easily accessible in Miramar) and suddenly cannot satisfy their fantasy of eating an apple.
However, there are also other consumers, who are willing to spend relatively more (in time or money, which is sometimes the same thing) to reach that store, but who also like apples and are able to pay a little more, always and when they have it closer.
I do not know which of the two groups of consumers is more important.
There is also another type of consumer of apples: one who has, for example, a bakery or sweetshop and needs apples in large quantities, but there is no wholesale market in which to buy them.
But after that cold reflection of a merchant’s grandson, I returned to my position as professor of Economics. The fact itself seemed fantastic to me for a case study from two different perspectives: that of microeconomics and that of Political Economy.
From the microeconomic perspective, there is nothing to say, except that perhaps the price at which the apples are sold at La Puntilla is not a price determined by market conditions -not just supply and demand, which should not be so simplistic, while there are monopolistic conditions conferred to a state company for the importation of apples.
Despite this price, there is a “market” for apples, to the extent that some people take the risk of buying 15,000 at a time. Therefore, there are no problems.
Now, look at an interesting thing: whoever buys apples at a price that is usually multiplied by a coefficient greater than 1.80, has enough money to import them! at a lower price or to buy them in a market that practices the wholesale modality.
If so, then perhaps the apples would be sold in those distribution points probably at a lower price than La Puntilla, with benefits for consumers and also for the country. This is because there would be no risk of money from the country (that is, from the people) in a perishable product, not at all decisive in the structure of the basic consumer goods of the average Cuban.
If there was such a possibility, as much as for the consumers, the salesman, and for the State itself (which does not have to spend on that which is not decisive) would be maximizing the utility of its resources. This is also a cold, calculating reasoning, made from microeconomics, which is too impersonal and far from the social relations of production.
Then let’s look at it from the viewpoint of Political Economy. This act of exchange is nothing more than a way in which diverse actors of society are related in certain conditions at a given moment. The state company, as representative of the owner -which is the people-, and the wholesale buyer of apples, who then sells them to the same owner (not to the State but to the people who consume them) at a higher price. Yes , it seems strange but it is like that. It watches over the interests of the owner and makes his stores work under And part of the utility produced by apples reverts to the owner in some kind of subsidized product or service, or development program from that income produced by apples.
On the other hand, the buyer of apples, who has discovered an opportunity in the retail and territorial distribution of the fruit, has an interest in selling it and making a profit to appropriate it privately. However, by buying all the apples at once from the state-owned company, it has made it easier for the company to buy apples again and continue fulfilling its social purpose, producing more profits for the owner, who is the people. It is true that this buyer appropriates a profit, but if and only if he manages to sell the apples, which allows the realization of the product in which a state company invested money (of the people).
The seller, as already mentioned, makes a profit, a part of which is used to pay its retailers, which generates some type of employment and provides a salary to people who are generally elderly and/or women, or other private businesses. This, although it is true that the “consumers of La Puntilla” are left without their apples, it is also true that the purpose for which apples are imported and sold is fulfilled!
If the company that provides the apples for La Puntilla could immediately replenish the inventory, it would be a great virtuous circle. But this is not the case and, in this case, it is not because of the blockade (you can buy apples not only in the United States, but also in Mexico or Canada).
It is also true that the apple does not care if it is sold in a mass lot or if it is sold individually. It, as long as it does not rot, will fulfill its role of becoming a direct natural food, juice, part of some kind of dessert. Keep in mind that famous passage of the Yogi Bear apple cake, BooBoo! – or in a good and refreshing drink, like cider. It is, in short, an apple, and it is aware of its role – and if not, then worse for the apple.
The way to solve the problem –MINCIN’s proposal to ration the sale of forty-eight “sensitive” products in stores that sell at differentiated and high prices– is another matter.
(Those stores, formerly known as TRD, since they do not sell in dollars directly, only collect CUC, which despite everything we think is not a currency and in fact, today is overvalued in its relationship with the dollar.)
We must resort to the economic history of Cuba and other countries that at some point practiced rationing –in the case of Cuba because we have been faithful and we have not abandoned it– to understand it.
In Cuba, the history of rationing is associated with three factors: the blockade and, before it, the trade reduction measures taken by the US government since the beginning of the Revolution. The decision of the revolutionary government sought to “guarantee” certain goods to the entire population during that hard period. In addition, it aimed to defeat the plans of the North American governments to force us to surrender through hunger. When we already had enough “brotherly and solidary help from the USSR”, then that measure of war became an instrument of equality, where the ration book is its iconic expression.
Then, our productive failures, as much or more than the blockade, made the supply of products in Cuba, in spite of having cheap energy, credit at very low cost and markets and safe prices for our export products, could ever be sufficiently flexible and respond quickly to variations in demand.
Today that expression of equality becomes the sustenance of distributive injustice. This is because, despite the differences in income, all Cuban citizens receive subsidized products and services, from the richest (the buyer of apples, for example) to the poorest, such as retirees with their pension as their only source of income. Note that the buyer of apples is not guilty of this, nor that Puntilla cannot buy apples quickly.
In general, the experiences of physical rationing of products only fulfill a very temporary and short role as a way to regulate the market. Its permanence over time generates distortions that, in the long run, affect the system as a whole and make it unproductive and inefficient, as well as having an intrinsic problem of poor allocation of resources.
(Of the Plan, our old and dear Plan, which was never fulfilled, not even in those days of “fat cows”, what can we say now?).
Resorting to these measures again is like eating the yuca plant and throwing out the root or, as Marxist economists say, it is to settle for momentarily solving the effect and not the cause.
I remember that in the Constitutional Reform Project that we discussed, everyone says in article 20:
“In the Republic of Cuba, the system of economy based on the socialist property of the whole people is governed by the fundamental means of production as the main form of management, and the planned direction of the economy, which considers and regulates the market in function of the interests of society.”
OK, this “solution” that has been proposed as a sui generis way of considering the market. It’s very similar to those of the sixties, which was later recognized in the Programmatic Platform of the Communist Party of Cuba as an error.
The latest recent history –that is, of the last fifty years– of our internal trade is a great book from which to learn what is not to be done. I won’t go on further here, because that gives one enough material for a couple of volumes.
If the decision to ration products at the end is taken again, what will happen? The first thing is that it will create more uncertainty towards the current project of modernization/updating of our economy, and that is a bad political effect.
The second is that it will also generate uncertainty for consumers, who will protect themselves by purchasing those products even when they do not need them (“just in case”) and will force additional expenses even when they are not necessary. In other words, there will be a non-efficient allocation of scarce resources.
Third – and this may not be so bad for some people – it will create a new type of employment, that of the PERMANENT BUYER, who will be out in the stores ready to “help” those who need/want to buy a little more of the normed product. This would be another unproductive form of employment that probably has as a correlate some “special relationship” within the stores.
And that is not science fiction. It has already happened and it still happens. It will happen again as long as the causes remain unresolved. I think we should first ask ourselves how apples can be imported when other, much more important products suffer from the disease of intermittency. Has anyone asked that question?
From the perspective of economic policy, it is evident that today there is a lack of market modality. That is, wholesale sales, something that has been recognized by all as a necessity in these times but which has been delayed for a long time. This happens sometimes for reasons that are not sustained either from the economy or from the Political Economy, much less from economic policy.
Selling wholesale does not even require a building, it is a decision. To make it work you can use state warehouses. It would only take a customer account for those who need or are legally authorized (because of their status as self-employed workers or cooperative members) to carry out that kind of operation.
While we are discussing this apple pastry, very sensitive and decisive issues for our well-being, for the perception of prosperity, for social justice and for equity, as well as for development, remain unresolved, despite the effort made and the hours that many people have dedicated to it.
Issues that have been publicly addressed by our deputies more than once or that have also appeared more than once in the neighborhood accountability assemblies.
Some examples: the weak dynamics of foreign investment, the low participation of investment in science and technology in the total volume of investments, the exodus of professionals, salaries so depressed that they are already almost psychiatric, the use of public services for personal benefit, the deficient system of care for the elderly, the lack of basic supplies in hospitals – such as sheets, towels, syringes and needles (which, by the way, are sold in pharmacies in CUC), medicines on the left, the lack of doctors, the almost eternal deficiencies of public transport, garbage on the corners and the lack of hygiene in the city, the housing deficit.
They are all there, they have been treated again and again. Some have objective causes, others depend to a high degree on subjectivities of one kind or another. However, several of them are unable to reach the hype that has been made because of this poorly understood fruit. And I don’t know why, being such hot and decisive issues, and being all in public view, they haven’t had the good fortune to be treated in the same way as Snow White’s apple.
* This text was originally published in the blog of the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez. OnCuba reproduces this text with the express authorization of its author.
19 September 2018 | 39 Comments
By: Marco Velázquez Cristo.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Some say that corruption should be denounced, demanding that impunity be avoided. However, when these demands are met but affect their personal interests or those of their class, they then try to minimize and ridicule what has been exposed. They also vilify those who have had the courage and moral integrity that they lack and who go beyond the ethereal blah, blah, blah, and denounce an offense like the one committed in La Puntilla.
In this specific case, in the conduct assumed by those who defend the unjustifiable, passion and wounded vanity also play a part. It is unbearable for them that a humble revolutionary blogger –whom they have tried to discredit by all means– with a simple but courageous article of denunciation, succeeded in capturing the attention of the country’s main media and that of an important part of society. So they resorted to making trouble on the Internet.
These characters are so contradictory that while they criticize double standards, they apply them on a daily basis. Their criticism is selective, they only approve of those that go against their main objective: [being] against the State. They are experts in distorting reality and try to describe a situation of corruption in our country like that of other places where it is difficult to differentiate between criminals and corrupt politicians. They are so hypocritical that they claim to defend the Revolution, when in reality they defend their own class interests and –in not a few cases– those of the enemy.
Due to this absence of principles, lack of objectivity and masked perfidy they must resign themselves to holler their heads off on the world wide web..
They themselves provide the arguments that lay then bare: When CIMEX reported on the investigation it would carry it out to clarify what had happened, these people said it would only go so far. When the results came out then they speculated that these would only lead to administrative measures. When it became known that the corresponding charges had been filed, they are now trying to justify a punishable act by the non-existence of a wholesale market and the insufficient availability of some products. Is it licit to corrupt others by taking advantage of their needs and lack of integrity in the name of still unresolved issues? Where are their moral values?
It is true that many things are needed and many problems must be solved, but these issues cannot be used as a justification for hoarding, speculation and exploiting those who have the least. To do so is immoral.
A wholesale market and the availability of more products cannot guarantee on their own the eradication of acts such as the one that has caused these cyber-vigilantes to come out in defense of the crooks who committed it. It is also necessary for defendants and defenders to show decorum, ethical principles and a sense of solidarity. They must leave hypocrisy behind, set aside individualism and honor their human condition. In the rest of the people courage and sense of citizen duty must not remain impervious while crimes are perpetrated.
“To witness a crime passively is equal to committing it”.
— José Martí.
Applying the philosophy of these false apostles of justice, we could charge them and those of their class. Maybe charge them for their children’s education and medical care?, take away their subsidized supplies?, tax their income with high taxes? and… why not?: take away their ADSL paid by the State because no few of them use it to access the Internet and attack the State.
If we were to do that, we could be in a better position to raise salaries and therefore the purchasing powers of those who receive the least and who, as a whole, contribute the most to the public coffers. We could buy more products, lower prices and maybe even create a wholesale market. What do you think, gentlemen?
I believe that it is a fair formula, because I remind these “avengers” that, fundamentally out of the sweat and the sacrifice of millions of humble people. From them come not only the apples but also many other items that some insensitive self-serving persons later hoard and resell at exorbitant prices. These humble people also create the resources and the money to guarantee the services that I mentioned above and the possibility of offering them free of charge, to subsidize the products of the basic basket, etc. It is their work that supports the economy and their dignified and disinterested attitude of commitment to the Revolution that constitutes its greatest strength and the indispensable factor to ensure its continuity.
They make it possible for us to enjoy the advantages of a social system that puts men and women at the center, that fights for equality and social justice, shows high public safety and low crime rates — features that are a luxury in a world shaken by violence. These features allow those who have a lot of money to live in peace and tranquility, and the Internet buffoons to play their pranks on the networks trying to win over supporters and smiles from their class without risk.
We must be consistent: corruption, as well as any other illegal act, have to be denounced regardless of who commits them. Their perpetrators must be prosecuted accordingly.
In Cuba there is not a protective hand that inhibits the action of justice. Double standards are not practiced at the government level as they are in other countries. But double standards are applied in the Cuban blogosphere by some who are shocked only by what does not suit them.
Don’t forget you pink tie clowns that in Cuba money will never guarantee impunity. Those who are in power are the humble –who in the face of scarcities and needs, will not tolerate being robbed, exploited and outraged– aware that as Martí said, “Poverty passes, what does not pass is dishonor”.
Paraphrasing the apostle, “this is a republic for all and for the good of all, not just for a few.
By Iroel Sanchez
Cuban engineer and journalist. He works in the Office for the Informatization of Cuban Society. He was President of the Cuban Institute of the Book. On twitter @iroelsanchez
September 9, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Some time ago, in an article titled “Against the third blockade,” [published 2014]I spoke of the fledgling oligarchs who already control food distribution networks in Cuba, this Friday, I had the opportunity to see them act. It was as a result of the sale of apples in the La Puntilla de Primera y “O” store, in the Havana neighborhood of Miramar.
Organized almost militarily and faced with the complicit indifference of the employees, a platoon of strong young men appeared – a good part of them “in uniform” with clothes bearing the U.S. flag – who, in a few minutes, bought 15,000 apples (150 boxes of 100). Using the pallets and wheelbarrows of the store, they arranged to take them out, using transportation from the CIMEX corporation itself, which the head of the group, [acting] with total authority, insistently demanded from a cell phone and a luxurious and modern black car with a private-car’s license plate.
When asked how this was possible, a store employee replied: “We can’t do anything”. An empty “information desk”, but [only] with a sign with the telephone numbers of “Customer Service” of the Panamerican chain of stores. When calling, at first they do not answer and after insisting several times they say that they already knew about the situation were taking care of it.
But in one hour, despite the promise of the only employee who tried to give an explanation: that the manager of the complex was on his way, he never arrived. Remember, the central office of the Corporation is a few meters from the store in a building named Sierra Maestra (!!!!). The calm with which the “platoon” acted suggested their conviction of their impunity.
I know that before this publication the company will try some answer, maybe there will be explanations and some disciplinary measure but let’s transcend the anecdote that surely told daily and get to the bottom. Let’s not collect more water with baskets:
A store that not long ago caught fire, was completely rebuilt, with cameras, guards, brand new cash registers and expensive security devices, for whose benefit? Imports with scarce foreign currency, for whose benefit? It is impossible not to remember what our colleague Javier Gómez Sánchez told us about how the same “uniform” prevails in the wardrobe of nationals who vacation in hotels in Varadero.
It is all very well for the press and prosecutors to go to the construction material stores, but they must follow the trail to the mansions that have been built with them, such as those on the road to Marbella, sorry, I meant Belllamar, in Matanzas. Marbella, in Spain, is where the oligarchs who ransacked post-Soviet Russia erected their residences.