Flowers for One of the Many Defunct ATMs in Cuba

The ATM machine at the Metropolitan Bank of Estancia and Conill, in Havana, was a spectacle this Monday

The spontaneous offering confirmed that they had perished from breakdowns and the deficit of Cuban pesos / Cuba]

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 2 July 2024 — A flower on the keyboard of an ATM at the Banco Metropolitano de Estancia y Conill, in Havana, was the spectacle that greeted customers who arrived early this Monday to withdraw cash. Both ATMs were out of service, and the spontaneous offering confirmed that they had perished from breakdowns and the deficit of Cuban pesos.

Shortly thereafter, one of the ATMs was refilled, and the line grew as the morning progressed. Even the bank of Nuevo Vedado had residents coming from the nearby neighborhood of El Cerro, who walked from the vicinity of the Almendares River on 26th Avenue and some other neighborhood of the Boyeros municipality, where “there is no money in any branch,” as explained by someone who paid 200 pesos to ride in an almendrón (a shared taxi) in order to be able to collect her retirement.

The line moved very slowly. After noon, some of those who were waiting despaired and left, but workers from the nearby ministries and state agencies that abound in the area also arrived. “It’s my lunch hour, but I’m going to spend it trying to get my salary from last month,” said an employee who finally gave up in the face of the prolonged wait, aggravated by an interruption to recharge the device with cash, which forced the rapid depletion of the bills.

The murmur of customer dissatisfaction continued until a scream caught everyone’s attention: “They’re out of money!

After one o’clock in the afternoon, a scream invaded the line. Two employees of the Metropolitan Bank itself, who were in line, although they had spent most of their time inside the air-conditioned premises, came out, both with several credit cards in their hands, to extract money. “We are forbidden to take cash out of the window so we have to take it, like everyone else, from the ATM,” one of the women defended herself against the numerous complaints about the time they took with all the operations and the danger that the women would grab the few pesos that were left.

Finally, the bank workers took their dozens of bills and returned to the branch. The murmur of dissatisfaction of the customers was maintained for a while until a scream caught everyone’s attention: “They’re out of money!” A frustrated old man, standing in front of the ATM, removed his expelled magnetic card without receiving any cash. “Tomorrow will be another lost day for me,” he sighed.

The stampede wasn’t long in coming. As in those wakes where the coffee is finished and the chairs in front of the deceased’s coffin are broken or uncomfortable, people left the ATMs to rest in peace, with their screens off, their insides empty and the floral offering now withered by the passing of the hours.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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