News

Cuba’s Hoarders, On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

It’s impossible to label “the never before seen” because this is already an everyday problem: people, like those chasing after gold or “far western” lands, are in a frenzy to try and hoard any primary, secondary or third priority products.

And we aren’t talking about medicines, which in the best of times, any of those responsible will take out of their magic violin case a song to give us hope.

No sir, this problem is related to food, which is considered a national strategy, and doesn’t seem to ever bear its calming fruits for one reason or another, which is economic, the crisis, the lack of resources to ensure a steady supply of what we need to send food down the esophagus into the stomach and not via TV announcements.

Those of us who belong to this unarmed army of the so-called “Third Age”, which already accounts for 20% of the population, knew (and we drank) this insatiable thirst in our childhoods. A friend describes it to me.

“I was about nine years old and the ration card still hadn’t been implemented yet. In Camaguey, where I lived, distribution was via the recently-formed Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). There were these kinds of certificates which gave you a pair of children’s sneakers, a pair of men’s trousers, a belt, boxers, whatever it was. I didn’t get the sneakers; others ended up worse off than me. A neighbor, a telegraphist, was really well connected and he took me by the hand and we walked down all of Republica Street and by the end of it, I had three pairs of sneakers in a bag. I had become a hoarder without knowing it, and at such a young age.”

Just a few days ago, at the market on 70th street and 3rd avenue, in Miramar (which was commonly called the diplomercado in the past), some instant noodle packets had been reduced to 25 cents CUC (Convertible Pesos). “Red Bear Instant Noodles”, the packet read which dared to advertise “prawn and chicken flavor”. People were buying them as if they were going to feed an entire infantry squad.

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