Fernando’s Eggs / Gladys Linares
Posted on March 24, 2014
HAVANA, Cuba. – Some “fighters” have done as Fernando, who when he
decided to retire, began to think about how to increase his pension
without courting trouble, because he was tired of “resolving” to feed
his family. One day, on passing through the farmer’s market at Diez de
Octubre and General Lee, he saw that they were selling newly hatched
chicks, and he bought 20 in order to begin his brood. He had found his
little business. He knew that the government sells the unrationed feed
for three pesos a pound. Also, rearing poultry was nothing new for him
because in his childhood in Palmira, Cienfuegos, his parents kept hens
in the backyard, and he and his siblings would sell the eggs in the city.
Fernando thought that this way he would have guaranteed eggs for his own
consumption and even would be able to sell some in the street. He was
sure he would have no problems with the police because he had bought the
animals as well as the food from the State.
But, the poor man, he forgot that he was in Cuba: A few days ago he was
walking the streets selling eggs when a police officer intercepted him.
As much as the poor gentleman tried to explain that he was not a
reseller, the officer took him to the station where they confiscated the
merchandise and imposed a fine. They told him that individuals are
prohibited from selling eggs, that only the State can do it.
Fernando already has forty hens and a production of 30 eggs daily. And
after that day, he only sells hidden in his home.
Eight eggs per month per person in 1965. Now the quota fell to five.
On January 2, 1965, in one of his long speeches, Fidel Castro said: “The
great battle of the eggs has been won. From now on the people will be
able to count on 60 million eggs each month.” With this affirmation he
demonstrated his scorn for Cubans because given the then-population,
that quantity in reality represented around eight eggs a month per person.
That same year, he would create the Animal Science Institute (ICA) whose
main objective must have been the search for better alternatives for
feeding cattle and poultry, an objective that the Institute still has
not achieved 49 years after its creation.
In reality, in Cuba before 1959, more than 85% of the farms were
dedicated to raising poultry and selling eggs. It was also a rare
country family that did not have a small brood whose eggs constituted a
product for quick sale. Also, in Havana, at Villas and Oriente, there
were big poultry production centers so the sale of live animals and eggs
was no problem for the population. It is after the arrival of the
revolutionary government, with the intervention in farms dedicated to
poultry, that the scarcity of this food begins.
Also, with the objective of increasing the poultry production, the
Institute of Poultry Investigations was created in 1976. By the way,
according to reports it published, in Cuba there are 10 million egg
layers, although we all ask ourselves where are the eggs. The government
sells by ration book five eggs a month per person, so the five
additional that cost 90 cents were excluded from regulated sale. After
that point, eggs have practically disappeared, and when they are sold
unrationed their price is 1.10 pesos national currency.
The scarcity of this protein causes long lines, in great demand among
the population not only because of its nutritional value but because it
is the cheapest sold in the country. And the old people are the most
affected. In the opinion of many, it would be preferable to raise the
price 20 cents instead of eliminating them from the ration book.
Cubanet, 24 March 2014, Gladys Linares
Translated by mlk
Source: Fernando’s Eggs / Gladys Linares | Translating Cuba –