14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 27 July 2022 — “Come neighbors, buy something. Sheets, towels, dessert plates, keep coming in.” The proclamation, which was heard this Tuesday where Hospital Street meets Jovellar, came from the woman who runs the bodega (ration store) located on that corner, which yesterday looked renovated, in salute to the official party on July 26th.
Everything had been arranged for the expected date: the painted walls, the polished counter and the neat and clean shelves, exhibiting two bottles of oil, a package of rice and another of sugar. At their side, contrasted other unusual items in the ration stores: sets of sheets at more than 2,000 pesos, towels over 800, plastic plates at 35 and even pens are offered in the local restaurant.
“Oh, but what a cool name they gave it, La Estrella [The Star],” a neighbor joked, pointing to the new sign for the ration store. “It would have been better if they had named it The Muddy Firefly. In the midst of so much land, holes and putrefied waters, didn’t they have another better investment to make?” A woman replied from the line to buy bread in the private cafeteria across the street.
The two establishments are separated by a huge fetid hole, full of sewage from the surrounding buildings that tarnishes the remodeling. The works began days ago and the street is open to start the repairs but, as often happens, there is no progress to be seen and there are neighbors who are without gas and waiting to see the area cleaned up.
“We have a gleaming bodega where there is hardly any food, but there is revolutionary will,” the forklift operator who sells agricultural products on that block comment sarcastically. “I would like to know when they are going to fix ours, which is just a block away, in San Lázaro, full of leaks and in danger of collapsing,” replied a customer while she bought an avocado. Sometimes, she tells the street vendor, the poor condition of the establishment prevents her from completing the errands in the ration book. “The ration store guy tells me, for example, that he can’t give me the sugar because it got wet, due to leaks,” she says annoyed.
Suddenly, conversations are interrupted and attention is drawn to a truck that has just become entangled in the debris on the street and has lost a piece of its bumper. The driver accelerates furiously after managing to free the vehicle, while someone yells at him: “Wow! The 26th is your party too!”
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