Desperate, Cubans Crowd to Buy Mincemeat and Beef Belly

Workers from a meat company offered their products outside the Gedic headquarters. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 26 November 2021 — Almost a hundred people lined up this afternoon in front of an improvised platform that workers from a meat company set up outside the main headquarters of the Construction Engineering and Design Business Group (Gedic) in the Cerro municipality, in Havana.

At first they offered their products only to the workers of that company, led by Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban spies who served jail time in the United States and who were later exchanged during the diplomatic thaw with the Barack Obama administration.

At the end of the sale to the Gedic workers, and in view of the fact that there was still merchandise left, they decided to take the platform out to the street to offer the residents of the place the mincemeat at 55 pesos per pound, the belly at 25 and the blood sausage to 35.

Word spread immediately in the neighborhood, an area with low-income families. Faced with the shortage of products in the freezers, many people ran to reach a privileged position in the line.

The number of interested parties forced the sellers to set up two scales to speed up the sale. Employees constantly asked customers for patience and calm, as they began to protest before those who tried to sneak in line, fearful of not reaching the small amount of meat available.

“What is that? Do you eat that?” yelled a lady pointing to the belly that looked quite dirty inside a plastic box. “Yes, ma’am, you give it a boil, remove the dirt and hair, and there you have meat to eat,” replied one of the workers in a mocking tone.

Others complained about the quality of the mincemeat, which at first glance seemed to have a lot of skin and water. “Gentlemen, listen up, I’m going to give you a lesson,” shouted a woman who seemed to be in charge of the sale. “The liquid in the picadillo is a preserve, you have to cook it with little water and try not to put too much salt because it is already highly salted.”

In industrial processes, the lady continued to explain, this preserve is used “to maintain the quality of the mincemeat.” Regarding the skins, she explained, “that is beef from Peru, which comes in pieces and was ground in front of us, so I assure you that it is of tremendous quality.” Turning to one of the men who came with her, she said in a low voice: “Well, they didn’t have much choice, because this meat is only for sale in MLC [freely convertible currency] stores.”

A boy who was able to buy said to one of the dispatchers: “We must take advantage of these opportunities, so give me two pounds of blood sausage. My mother-in-law is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and will have to make a pact with the Lord, because these times are not picky,” he joked.

Despite everything, many returned home unable to buy. “They should have let me buy first, the desire I have to eat a good mince of beef,” was the regret of an older woman who with her cane dragged herself away with her empty bag.


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