‘Now They’re Closing the Ration Stores in Cuba, Yes, Totally’

Miniscule and dirty, a portion of beans “for two people,” was sold for 20 pesos, said the shopkeeper. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 27 November 2023 — A handful of black beans, a little salt and four pounds of rice: the list of what they were distributing this Monday in a bodega (ration store) in Centro Habana, to give an account of the calamitous state of the rationed market in Cuba.

Miniscule and dirty, the beans were sold for 20 pesos a handful, which does not reach a pound “for two people,” said the bodeguero (shopkeeper). Katia, a resident of the area, made a face. “With a teenage son, I don’t have enough to even start with this.” And the little bit of salt, the woman of about 40 continued, she hadn’t been able to get it for two months.

As for rice, the four pounds they gave on this occasion were divided into two: two pounds of one donated, free, and another two parboiled, paid. “One bad and the other worse,” lamented Katia, who recalls that before they gave seven full pounds in state establishments at the beginning of the month, “and now they distribute it divided into three.”

“With a teenage son, I don’t have enough to even start with this”

“The oil hasn’t come, the eggs haven’t come. Now the bodegas are closed!” she cried. “It’s a total slap in the face. There is nothing, and you have to buy it in the private stores at their prices. Look at the bodeguero there, a whole month doing nothing.”

The spectacle in state establishments is like watching a movie of the living dead, the example of a society with vital minimums. In the bakery, customers showed their ration books, paid and went away shuffling, with such apathy that some forgot to take the bread. “Look at that,” said a man in line. “They have their heads somewhere else, and they know that the bread is inedible.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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