HAVANA, Cuba, October, www.cubanet.org – Part of the population of Guanabo, east of Havana, spent two days without bread — an essential food in the current Cuban diet — being available off the ration book, because of a quarrel among bakers, including injuries and the breaking of the gas lines to the ovens, which needed to be repaired and interrupted production.
“Several police officers quelled the war between the bakers. The injured were treated at the polyclinic. It was learned through statements from the contenders that the fight started because some bakers stole wheat flour from others,” says Isabel Torres, a customer who couldn’t buy any bread because the fight broke out just as she arrived.
But the flour didn’t belong to anyone but the State bakery, just like the oil, salt, yeast, fuel, the ovens, and even the water, though these ingredients are often appropriated. Corrupt practices extend to almost all bakeries — not to be absolute — including the illicit sale of the flour and oil.
What was the private reason for the conflict?
The Administration of the State bakeries and dessert shops have the custom of authorizing (illegally) the bakers and other employees to take home two pounds (loaves) of bread at the end of the day. They took them or, without having paid for them, sold them right from the bakery. In addition, they fabricated a collective plot for another quantity of bread to sell for their own profit, using raw ingredients to their advantage. They claim this profit is a supplement to their low wages. The consequences are that the “official” bread is low quality and underweight, and too expensive at ten Cuban pesos.
The State dairies also authorize the milkers to take two liters of milk. But, bakers or milkers, are they honest in not exceeding their assigned quotas of bread or milk? Not on your life!
For decades citizens have complained at neighborhood meetings with representatives from the government and the Communist Party about the terrible quality and low weight of the bread. It has also been denounced in the official press, but in response there are only momentary solutions, excuses, and hopes for improvement.
How is it that the government authority is incapable of definitively solving such an old social problem? That is the point. People are tired of eating — sometimes as their principal food source because of the shortages — their daily ration of Anti-Bread.
The six bakers could face trial for brawling and labor indiscipline. That is, if there is a trial. Otherwise, as sometimes happens, it will all stay in the family with administrative reprimand and conciliatory talk, “Gentlemen, nothing happened here!”… because they have to preserve the image of the business in order to continue stealing.
An inscription in big letters at the bakery on Neptune near the corner of Belascoain, in Havana, says the same thing as at every other bakery in the country, “We work for you!” For who?!
Christ commanded, “Distribute the wine and bread!” Biblical bread that should be of good quality, without the subtraction of ingredients because the story does not include a popular protest about the bad quality of the food. Do we have to go back to ancient times to some day eat good bread?
By Reinaldo Emilio Cosano Alén, firstname.lastname@example.org
3 October 2013