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Chasing After Concrete Blocks in Cuba
January 7, 2015
Jorge Milanés Despaigne

HAVANA TIMES — “The trucks bring 600 concrete blocks a time,” Belkis
says to me with a rude tone of voice.

“That’s fine,” I reply. “But there’s something I don’t quite understand:
the time these materials are received and how they are sold.”

The truck just arrived. I see the loaders passing other blocks without
first taking them into the warehouse for inventory. The blocks are going
straight from the truck to a trailer, “how do you explain that” I asked
out loud?

“They’re for State subsidized construction work, they were already
reserved,” she replies.

“And why does the same truck sell these same blocks at [the higher
price] of 10 pesos the unit outside?” I ask.

“Those blocks are produced privately,” she answers.

“So, the blocks produced by private contractors are reddish and come in
a different truck,” I retorted and walked out of the office feeling very
angry. “Go where you please,” I heard her say in the distance.

In order to take the materials out of the warehouse, those who have
received a State subsidy have to have a check issued by the bank. I
wanted to see how that person who had received the subsidy took out the
blocks Belkis had supposedly sold her.

“Where’s the driver of the truck?” I asked at the entrance.

“It’s me,” the person there said. “Relax, bro, I’ll bring you your
blocks this afternoon.”

The torrential rain that day, however, made it impossible for the driver
to return to the warehouse. Though the bank is closed on Saturday, the
blocks that had come in the day before were all sold. Loaders would walk
in and out of the trailer carrying blocks, sold at who knows how much
(in this case, they were selling them inside the warehouse, not out on
the street).

There, 300 blocks were set aside for the lady who had allegedly reserved
them all, 600 blocks in total (according to the warehouse woman).I
continued to wait for the truck to arrive. At 5 pm, I headed home
without any blocks.

At 8 am the next day, Belkis said to me: “I’ve seen you here since
Thursday. The concrete block company doesn’t open on Sundays. You can
go, I’ll make sure to set aside your blocks.”

There are far too many problems and speaking to the manager is
impossible: she’s either at a meeting, away, having lunch or something
else. You can’t believe what people there tell you. I was there until
ten in the morning and the blocks never arrived. You can also buy these
at a different warehouse, but the problem is that you’re assigned a
certain amount of money and the price of transporting the materials home
varies.

At 7 am on Monday, Belkis saw me sitting there, came over and said to
me: “Give me your papers. I’m not going to be here and I don’t want any
problems with your blocks when the truck comes in.” I gave her the
documents but (obviously) stayed put.

This is by no means an isolated incident. The issue has been addressed
in the TV program Cuba dice (“Cuba Says”), the radio broadcast Haciendo
Radio (“On the Radio”) and other spaces, but nothing changes. Such
incidents, at least here, are something we see every day.

The truck arrived at 11:45 am. Everyone there cheered for me: I was
finally able to buy the diabolical concrete blocks. And that was just
the blocks! I can only imagine what lies ahead to obtain the other
building materials.

Source: Chasing After Concrete Blocks in Cuba – Havana Times.org –
http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=108418

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