The Most Masterful of All the Lines

Two lines in one: on the right, the one for personal hygiene products; on the left, for chicken. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spíritus, 18 September 2020 —  The parks are empty in Sancti Spíritus. No one would think of sitting on a bench, for fear of fines, and because they would not waste time in a square, because the imperative is to use the hours when you can be on the street to look for food. Two long lines along the side of a central corner mark this urgency.

This Friday, it was possible to observe what a neighbor described as “the most masterful of all the lines,” two lines in one: to the right, the crowd gathered to buy personal hygiene products, and to the left, to buy chicken. All this, with previous presentation of one’s rationbook and in the rationed market.

The city, which until recently seemed to have been saved from the rebound of Covid-19 on the island, is now once again under strict measures that regulate the time its residents can spend on the street. The assumption is to be able to buy what is necessary in the few hours in which public circulation is allowed.

“Are you here for the line for soap or the one for chicken?” is greatly debated among the many who know that betting on the most probably does not mean achieving the most needed. “The line that works is the one that can be achieved, the other is wasted time,” reflects an old parishioner who spent his hours in the central park of the city with a bottle of rum in hand but now prefers to earn some money as a colero — someone who holds a place in line for others.

Serafín Sánchez Park, in Sancti Spíritus, is uncharacteristically empty this Friday. (14ymedio)

Despite the persecutions against hoarders, resellers and coleros, the police are not able to control what is part of the landscape of Sancti Spíritus. “The lines are longer and now there are more police officers but in the end they are the lines of a whole lifetime,” says the spontaneous dealer. There will be time to return to the squares. Now life passes on the corners, in the shadow of a store or a market.


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