Many years ago, my mother used to say “me voy a la cola,” or loosely translated to “I am going to stand in line.” Back then, they were ration lines for everything from A to Z. My mother carried “una tarjeta,” or a ration card, where the merchant would mark how many ounces of this or that she got that week.
Not much has changed, as we see in this report by The Wall Street Journal:
Pushed by the implosion of top ally Venezuela and sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Cuba has driven into an economic ditch. The government has tightened state rations. Residents stand in lines for hours to buy scarce basic goods such as eggs, flour and chicken.
The lines are still here. What’s also here are the excuses.
Back then, it was “Yankee imperialismo” choking the revolution. We were told that sacrifice made the new “socialist man or woman.”
I recall a story of a neighbor kid who got chewing gum from his family in the U.S. They put the strip inside a letter and this friend was walking around telling everyone that he was chewing “chicle americano,” the slang for such a thing.
Another memory is the lady down the street who was boasting about drinking Alka-Seltzer — another family member in the U.S. had put it inside a birthday card.
The lines are part of Cuba, again. The excuses always start with President Trump and the U.S. embargo. What else is new?
Yes, it’s true that the situation in Venezuela has impacted Cuba just like the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s.
However, the real problem is that the communists took over an island that did not have ration lines and I can remember walking down to the corner story and buying that famous “chicle americano.”
No more! Communism turned this prosperous little island into an economy that requires dependency on someone, from Moscow to Caracas.
As my mother always reacts when I call her and read articles like the aforementioned one from the WSJ. She responds: “La misma (expletive deleted) de siempre” — the same as always.
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