14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 2 April 2022 — More interested in reaching for a bit of bread than in enjoying sports games or car races, this is what the hundreds of people who came to the Malecón in Havana this Saturday looked like. Along the coast, the authorities set up kiosks with limited offerings in tribute to the Union of Young Communists and the organization of pioneers.
“I had to go to my house to get a bottle of water because everything here is very expensive,” an employee of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) complained near Maceo Park. The woman arrived at the place along with other work colleagues who were called “mandatorily” to the event.
“A package of popcorn costs 25 pesos. That is outrageous for an activity designed especially for children and young people. The prices of everything are going through the roof despite the fact that Party officials have come to supervise how everything is going,” the state employee complained.
“My work schedule is from Monday to Friday, but when they invent something like that, then I also lose the weekend because I can’t say ’no’. This is the time I use to do the wash, resolve pending issues or take care of my family but we’ve been told this had to look lively and crowded.”
Near the corner of Belascoaín Street and under the sun, some tables with chessboards were part of the entertainment options. Along other parts of the coast there were games of dominoes, equipment for team games and an exhibition of educational materials. But most of these options were empty of a public that preferred to crowd around the food stands.
“I came with my two children because a neighbor told me that they were selling Pellys [corn puffs] and also that there was bread,” said Yasmary, speaking to 14ymedio, Yasmany is a young mother who was especially interested in “buying something that later serves as a snack for the children to take to school.”
In the line, the majority did not even show interest in following a race in which several Cuban sports figures participated. Nor did the competition between vehicles attract the attention of eager customers who feared that the goods would run out before it was their turn to buy.
The call, one of the first in that area of the Cuban capital after the limitations imposed by the pandemic for almost two years, stumbled in its first hours with little supply, the high prices of the products and a certain popular apathy that the loudspeakers, recorded music and television cameras failed to shake.
“Tonight sure everything looks different on the news,” sneered a resident from neighboring San Lázaro street who came to the Malecón in search of some refreshments. “When the TV cameras went away everything relaxed. Even the runners sped up the race when they passed in front of the camera but when the journalists left they got into the lines for food, like everyone else.”
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