The Holes in the Belt / Fernando Damaso
Posted on March 13, 2014
Two upsetting phenomena have occurred in the last few weeks: some
products have disappeared from the market stalls, both those selling in
Cuban pesos and those selling in hard currency, and prices overall have
gone up. Cleaning products on sale for Cuban pesos don’t exist or are
scarce, and personal hygiene products are even available in hard
currency. In the farmers markets a pound of onions, lemons, or a small
cabbage cost fifteen Cuban pesos or more.
It seems that the announced upcoming monetary unification and the new
mechanisms of established trade, plus the reduced production, have been
the principal causes.
In our commerce, supply and demand are unresolved issues: they seem to
be locked in due to many years of absence. A product costs the same from
the time it arrives at the market until it goes bad, and discounts don’t
exist, while the ordinary citizen finds his pension or wages are less
every day, able to stretch to less and less, without any real prospects
of an increase. He finds himself between a rock and a hard spot, hoping
some family member “out there” will help him out by sending some money
or that there will be a miracle, at a time when these seem ever more rare.
The discomfort this creates is palpable in the street, and there are few
who don’t express it: you just have to listen to what people say at the
bus stops and on the buses, in the stores, and wherever two or more
people get together. In these conversations the authorities don’t come
out very well. For now, it is only this, but no one can be sure that
this will always be the case and that tomorrow, those who today only
talk, might not begin to act. Everything is possible: it just depends on
how many holes are left for tightening our belts.
13 March 2014
Source: The Holes in the Belt / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba –