14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 28 August 2020 — Long before the pandemic began, even before the “economic situation” was announced last September, the verbs mark (your place in line), wake up early and wait have been the most conjugated in Cuba. The lines that have accompanied our lives for decades have increased in size and gained prominence in the streets of this Island.
“I managed to get chicken on Tuesday in El Danubio because I stood in line from five. If I had arrived at the time the store opens, I wouldn’t have gotten even mayonnaise,” a woman lamented this Thursday before a young military man, wearing an orange vest, who was trying to evict several people who a little earlier set up the line to access the store near Calle 26, in El Vedado.
“We are not coleros (people paid to stand in line for others), we are the heads of the family fighting to guarantee daily food. There aren’t any coleros here, those are organized from the day before and here, not even if you stand in front of the store when it closes, doyou manage to be the first,” the woman claimed before the silent military man and assured him that she had marked her place when the sun had not yet risen.
Now with the new restrictive measures that will come into effect next Tuesday in Havana, being in the street between seven at night and five in the morning will be prohibited. The hundreds or thousands of people who left left home before the “rooster’s crow” to try to guarantee something to eat, will have to wait for the curfew to end.
It is not a new obstacle. On August 2, the authorities in Havana began the offensive that was called “Operation to fight against coleros“, which includes the prohibition of standing in line near the store at night and at dawn. However, the lines continued to proliferate everywhere.
Last weekend, at dawn, in front of the Maisí store on Infanta Street, dozens of people were waiting to achieve the first places in line. A few meters away, in the popular Parque Trillo, the panorama was repeated amidst the shadows and doubts about the products that customers would find when the nearest store opened.
But these hours of darkness and anguish could change in a few days, because the authorities have threatened hefty fines for those who violate the curfew that will take effect on September 1st and continue for 15 days. The threat is unlikely to wipe out the crowds to buy food, but they will have to arrange themselves differently.
In some state stores, employees have been hanging posters warning that it is forbidden to “stand in line before six in the morning”, “line up for more than one person” or draw up “a list” with names and Identity Card numbers to guarantee your position in line. What will happen when all these restrictions take effect?
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