14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 6 September 2020 — At five in the morning this Saturday, Beatriz Delgado went out to the streets in search of food for her family. It is already two in the afternoon and she is still standing on line to buy groceries and some vegetables. Her daily routine has become more difficult with the new restrictions to slow the rebound of covid-19.
Since last Tuesday, residents of Havana have been trying to adjust to the curfew. From seven at night to five in the morning the city is deserted. Only police, firefighters, ambulances and some cars with special permits can be seen. It is a radical change when compared to the very intense early mornings before this ban.
“I used to go out with a friend of mine after watching the soap opera and we would stand from that time in a couple of lines, sometimes without really knowing why. It didn’t matter, because anything is needed: shampoo, chicken, ground meat, tooth paste,” explains Delgado, who is 63-years-old.
“The lines would form starting in the afternoon, and getting up early in order to get a good number was useless; even so, we never got a number smaller than 60,, explains this Havana resident, for whom the curfew means fewer possibilities of being able fill her bag.
Delgado lives with her son, her husband, daughter-in-law and grandson, but she is the only one who can go shopping. “The two men in the house are programmers and they spend the day on the computer because they are the economic support of the family. It is my turn to go out, there is no one else who can, my son’s wife is taking care of their three-month-old baby.”
In one of her bags, Delgado already has bread, which she bought after a 45-minute wait, ground turkey which cost her four hours of standing in one line, and in the other bag she has rice
In one of her bags, Delgado already has bread, which she bought after a 45-minute wait, ground turkey which cost her four hours of standing in one line, and in the other bag she has rice, bought at the rationed market and for which she had to pay, in addition to money, with an hour of her life.
“With these new measures, everything is different, there is less time for shopping because everything closes at four o’clock and you cannot leave the municipality. Before, I used to take a larger tour of Cerro, Centro Habana, and Plaza and I had more possibilities,” she recalls almost nostalgically.
However, she recognizes that with the growing shortages, “as early as noon, it’s not worth going to a store. If you cannot shop early, it is better to wait until the next day.”
A few meters from Delgado, a woman in line comments on a television report against hoarders. “I got so upset, it’s true that there are people who go too far, and others who do business, but we are usually the ones affected in the end,” the lady complains about the restrictions to prevent the resale of products.
Scanning of the identity card, the ban against buying items at the same store several times, the high fines and even the arrests of those suspected of hoarding, intimidate many
Scanning of the identity card, the ban against buying items at the same store several times, the high fines and even the arrests of those suspected of hoarding, intimidate many. “I buy because it is my turn and I need it; I have an empty freezer and now the possibilities are fewer and I am forced to go out almost daily.”
When the woman finishes complaining, Delgado looks at her watch and finds that she has been standing for more than an hour in front of an agricultural market store of the Youth Labor Army (EJT) on Tulipán Street. It is the only place where there are products left, and they are only allowing access to three people at a time, which makes the line slow and unbearable.
A whisper of discomfort spreads through the line and several customers call for the sales to move faster. The employee responds that “those are the guidelines” and that this Friday she received a fine of 2,000 CUP for allowing five people to be inside the premises at one time.
“When I went to lunch yesterday some inspectors came and said that the space is very small and can only be occupied by three customers at a time,” says the worker, very annoyed. “I had to go this morning and pay the fine, they told me I could appeal and I’m going to do it because I think it was very unfair. ”
Shortly after, the place empties out and the woman signals for three more people to enter.
Traditionally in this air-conditioned location, clean and sometimes chopped vegetables and viands are sold in bags. This Saturday, there were only cucumbers, squash, julienned sweet potatoes and some eggplants on the shelves. Beatriz takes everything, a bag of each product. These are not times to choose.
“Now I am going home with my two bags full, 260 pesos gone and six hours less to live,” she concludes while walking down Tulipán Street, where everyone hurries to find food before the curfew forces them to stay home.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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