Reporter Pulls Food Prices Out of His Hat / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, 9 July 2015 — A few years ago an official reporter for the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, when he was a correspondent in Venezuela, wrote fanatical features about the late Venezuelan leader. Upon returning to Cuba he set about “clarifying,” in dense articles, the functioning of agricultural markets and other issues related to domestic trade. It’s the same as the article about ground turkey and “floor mop” steak.

Now, calculator in hand, he rambles on about prices in the agricultural markets. In an article entitled “Sofrito Continues Just Like Before” he states that “the Cuban family, between January and March this year, had to pay 1.10 pesos per pound for garlic and 76 cents for onion, the same as in 2014.” He adds that “a sweet potato, which before cost you a peso, now costs you four cents more.”

I really don’t know which top hat he pulled these prices out of; they are completely unrelated to reality. First of all, garlic is not sold to retail consumers by the pound, but by the head, a small one selling for from 2 to 4 pesos. A pound of onions has fluctuated between 10 and 15 pesos, and one sweet potato has risen to between 2 and 2.50 pesos.

He admits something that is undeniable, “prices of almost all agricultural products have continued to rise,” but he blames “low production, the existence of private restaurants and cafes, tourism growth, and declining imports, which have caused supply not to meet demand, generating higher prices.”

Next he tackles problems he can’t solve, and develops a strange thesis “on the impossibility of generating an algorithm to determine, with some degree of certainty, the correspondence between supply and demand for modeling prices in the agricultural market,” followed by other convoluted notions, “in my opinion,” as he habitually repeats.

“Sofrito continues just like before” because the system doesn’t work and is unable to solve the problem of feeding the Cuban people, as has been more than demonstrated by 56 years of failures.

This, presumably, the reporter doesn’t say.