Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, August 4, 2020 — The Regime designed by Fidel Castro has been based historically on informing, pitting Cubans against each other. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) were created to accomplish this mission. Denouncing deviant, non-revolutionary behavior was the slogan, so that then the authorities could take punitive measures. Snitching in itself became something inherent to the survival of the revolutionary Regime, a face of its identity that quickly obliged Cubans to react in order to survive.
With the passage of time, this system of informing acquired still more importance every time the country entered into crisis, as happened in different moments along its existence. Then someone “antisocial” was identified as the enemy and had to be harassed and have his life made impossible. Cubans know very well what I’m talking about, because that slogan of informing, repressing and expelling compatriots from Cuba has been happening for 61 years and has formed part of the DNA of three generations of Cubans. For the Communists, there’s only one model of society: theirs. The alternative isn’t admissible, and if it appears, it’s simply persecuted and eliminated. Cuba has been drained dry of its population because of the Regime’s ideological uniformity and policy of informing.
Now, in these most difficult moments with the economy moving towards collapse and the food crisis, the Castro Regime has identified a new enemy to destroy and has put all of the official press and propaganda at its service: the “hoarders”, resellers and coleros, (people who are paid to stand in line for someone else). This could become much worse if groups of “rapid response” are created, which has already been announced in Holguín. However, the Regime is surprised to see that the image of these citizens as “antisocial” and criminal collides with the extraordinary social acceptance of the services they provide.
Granma points out that attacks on hoarders, resellers and coleros are increasing on social networks, in Internet journals and television programs, and refers to multiple examples. But of course what they don’t say is that a good part of the complaints come from supporters and defenders of the Regime who have been instructed to post these messages. So far the waters are calm, but a storm may be coming.
Communist propaganda has put its point of view in a position that probably doesn’t coincide with most of the population. The criteria of the official Regime propaganda is based on a supposed nonconformity of the citizen affected by these behaviors associated with the “monopoly” of the lines that obliges them later to resort to acquiring products on the black market, at super-inflated prices. Certainly, this isn’t the order of things, as many Cubans explain.
On the contrary, the need to resort to those who “crash” the lines is motivated by the fact that, after several unsuccessful attempts, people are tired of wasting time and not getting what they want, because what exists in the shops is insufficient. Even more, people with physical difficulties can’t stand in line for hours.
Then along comes someone who offers his turn in line, generally among the first, so the consumer is sure of having access to the desired product. The early turn doesn’t fall from the sky, like manna. You have to fight for it, keep watch on the door of the establishment, spend one night or several out in the elements, sleeping the best you can and away from your family. The colero business, in the informal economy, is one of the most important that has existed in Cuba in its 61 years of lines and hardship.
What’s wrong with that? The line is nothing more than a consequence of the Regime’s poor economic management, and that’s where the responsibility lies, not with the people who dedicate time, strength, lack of sleep and the ability to manage a job that has a great social benefit, which, logically, should yield a private benefit, and which will last as long as shortages and poverty exist.
The Regime’s propaganda on this subject is so far off base that it even presumes that these behaviors are related to “the media war that has faced Cuba for more that six decades”. Incredible.
Coleros and resellers arise because there are lines. The hoarders, as Granma calls them, are people who fear that products will disappear from the store and simply won’t be there when you want them. The lines are caused by deficient economic management. Citizens who attack the coleros and resellers, if they even exist, should direct their anger at the Communist leaders, who, for sure, don’t have to spend long hours in the lines of misfortune. If someone doesn’t have access to “essential purchases” as a consequence of the monopoly and control of the lines, he should know that the only one responsible for that situation is the Communist leader at the head of the country, and he’s the one they should ask to explain.
The great irresponsibility of the official press is to use this scenario to pit Cubans one against the other, promote snitching and accusations, and ultimately, return to more of the same, always. This isn’t good for a country, nor should it continue in these times of special gravity. In addition, if the Regime continues forward with its plans to eliminate coleros, hoarders and resellers, as the Cimex stores have announced, the economic situation for many Cubans will get worse, and the need to “resolve” [ed. note: the all-purpose Cuban word for figuring out how to get by] will again become a difficult problem.
Lastly, Granma has to be told that of course Cubans have the right to complain about shortages in the shops, without the need to ridicule anything. The Regime’s errors in economic management are very visible here. In the stores that accept only dollars and a few other foreign currencies there is no problem with buying what you want; in the State stores there is greater injustice. In Cuba, as much as the State declares that no one will be abandoned, the coleros, hoarders and resellers help resolve the need for food and cleaning products. More than a negative social attitude, they offer a service to society. They don’t abandon anyone.
Thus, there is no historic duty for revolutionaries to close the way to those Cubans who want to offer solutions to their compatriots. Those who close the way are precisely those who cause the lines, and they need to understand this in order to break the chains that bind the Cuban people to a policy and ideology that is contrary to human reason.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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