14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 November 2021 — The air begins to blow from the north, the cool temperatures announce the arrival of the brief Cuban winter and, with it, Christmas is also approaching. The little trees sparkle in a festival of colored lights behind the windows and some shelves are dressed in gala and garlands, but only in the so-called ‘dollar stores’, which accept payment only in hard currency, symbols of the economic apartheid that is taking hold in the country.
Although the official discourse strives to show these days as a time of hope, after the worst of the pandemic, this Christmas can hardly be joyful. Many are no longer among us: those who lost the battle against the covid, those who went to prison simply for going out to protest, those who went into exile leaving broken families, children who can’t to see their parents, parents who can’t see their children.
The end of the year will come in the midst of a crisis that seems to have no end, a galloping devaluation of the Cuban peso and the increasingly evident impossibility of a life in which all Cubans have the same opportunities. Buying traditional products to celebrate in December, such as pork, black beans and cassava, poses a challenge for many families due to the high cost.
Polarization is not only political, but economic. Inequalities are more pronounced than they have ever been between those who can pay with foreign currency and those who only have the humble national currency. And the Christmas holidays are a true reflection of those differences.
Not all Cuban homes will have the symbolic Christmas Tree, simply because national businesses will not be selling them. For this reason, many will have to observe the garlands and the twinkling stars behind the almost inaccessible window of a store in which they cannot even dream of shopping.
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