There Was Food But Not For Us

Images from this morning show the shelves full of meat. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 20 July 2020 — When the sun rose this Monday, about 250 people were already waiting outside the Boyeros y Camagüey store in Havana to buy food and toiletries with foreign currency. Since last week, when the Cuban government confirmed what the independent media had already reported, the start of the sale of food in foreign currencies through magnetic cards has monopolized the talks and the outrage.

This weekend several images were leaked from the interior of one of the shops preparing to open its doors on July 20. So, we came face to face with a reality that we suspected but that we have seen confirmed on those shelves full of preserves, in the refrigerators loaded with meat, and on the shelves full of toiletries. There were products but not for those who only had national currency.

Where were all these sauces, these cuts of beef, the ground beef and these packages with beans when for months people have had to spend hours, if not days, in a line to buy what little stores had for sale in convertible pesos? Is it that they are going to make us believe that all this arrived in the country last week, circumventing the American embargo that the Plaza de la Revolución always uses as a pretext for the shortages?

These goods were here but the authorities did not want to sell them in the stores in Convertible and Cuban pesos (CUP and CUC). All those arguments that there were no raw materials and that the pandemic had left the country without the ability to buy basic items, were just to justify why there were no products for sale in exchange for those colored slips of paper that they still insist on calling “Cuban pesos,” when in reality they seem to levitate with so little worth.

They have kept us passing most of our lives in a long line to get a package of frozen chicken or some detergent, while in state warehouses there were tons of merchandise that was reserved exclusively for those who have the currency of that country which, in official propaganda, remains “the enemy.” This peculiar adversary, whose currency it is necessary to use to sustain a dysfunctional and unproductive system like the one that exists on this Island.

Today, when the police distributed the first 200 turns in line outside the Boyeros and Camagüey market, customers prepared not only to buy food and cleaning supplies, but also to peer into that inventory of products that has been hidden from us for months.


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