14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 5 November 2022 — Microphone in hand, comedian Kike Quiñones tried to drag a smile out of the hundreds who gathered in Plaza de Carlos III in Central Havana on Saturday. A fair had started earlier in the day, at which the star attraction was two pieces of fried chicken in an aluminium container for every attendee. But the comic’s jokes didn’t manage to alter the long faces of those who had waited hours to purchase this product.
“I can sell you the right to buy the container because I’ve already waited twice and now I’m only interested in buying the chicken”, a woman explained to a boy, who, after counting the money he had in his wallet, checked if it was enough to pay the 170 pesos for the container and the 40 pesos more that made up the amount for the chicken. “There’s Lada and Moskvitch spares on sale too, but I don’t have a car so I’m not even interested in those either”, said an elderly man who’d been waiting “since before nine o’clock”.
Surrounding the crowd, many soldiers guarded the entrance to the square. “I want to see just what it is you’re filming there, Sir”, quipped Quiñones when a young boy pulled out his phone to record the show. The gag only drew a guffaw from one of the soldiers but didn’t at all amuse those who were lining up and who knew very well what kind of problems can result from pointing a camera at the Police and the Special Forces. “They’re laughing now, but for less than that they’ll slap a fine on you or pile you into a truck and cart you off to the station”, said an adolescent who was also waiting for the container and the chicken.
A while later, the line was still growing and the comic’s jokes had come to an end. All you could hear were the grumbles and shouts of those who, fearing they wouldn’t get what they’d waited for, called out for more food to be put out for sale, and at a lower price. Before 12pm the fair was already flagging and still with hardly any food available.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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