14ymedio, Havana, 9 April 2020 — With each official event or prominent date, it is common to see government vehicles on Cuban streets that have a “Via” pass attached to the windshield. This gives them the right to circulate without restrictions during events such as May Day parades, as well as during emergency situations caused by hurricanes or during carnivals. Now Covid-19 has readjusted the priorities and the signs they display mention the pandemic, but without changing the structure of the sentence.
“Via,” it says in large letters on a piece of paper pasted to the window of a car belonging to the Ministry of Internal Commerce (Mincin) which, on Thursday morning, distributed instructions to various food service venues in the Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution municipality. But underneath the three-letter word, a very disturbing written phrase appeared: “At the service of the coronavirus,” the sentence says, making matters worse with its unforgivable misprint.
“They are at the service of the coronavirus instead of being at the service of the population,” joked a resident near Tulipán Street, who found that the state’s cafe in the area has not sold alcoholic beverages to the public since Thursday. “My daughter is 15 years old today and I had been dreaming about this party for years*. We decided to just have a family meal and I came to get some cold ones for the adults,” he said.
The last time there was a dry law in Cuba was after the death of Fidel Castro in November 2016. This Wednesday, the Cuban authorities announced that the sale of beer and rum for consumption in state premises was canceled, but they left the door open for purchases to take home. “Today we have been directed not to sell anything with alcohol, not even to take away,” explains an employee of a bar on the corner of Factor Street on Thursday. “They collected everything: the rum, the brandy and the vodka.”
*Translator’s note: A girl’s 15th birthday is a major life event in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America, ideally celebrated with great fanfare.
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