Underweight Bread and Graffiti against Raul Castro

July 21, 2017 |

“Often enough, the wielders of force are more afraid of their victim than is their victim of the wielders of force.” (Stefan Zweig)

By Vicente Morin Aguado

The daily bread rolls that are supposed to weigh 80 grams each but rarely do.

HAVANA TIMES — On Monday July 17th, “Down with Castro” graffiti ushered in the new day on Campanario Street between Carmen and Rayo in Central Havana. The hasty arrival of painters with rollers erased this act of daring soon enough, even though the metallic green paint of the accusing letters could still be seen under the grout of the door that used to belong to the Municipal Impoundment center for seized goods.

Just a few meters away from the fleeting news, lies an ongoing story which has been carried out so much over the past half a century of our history that it is met with the Cuban people’s indifference when it is a political issue in spite of ordinary citizens being a victim of it. I’m talking about the Gerona bakery, where hundreds of people go everyday to buy their 80 grams rationed bread rolls that the State offers for the modest price of five cents in national currency.

The number of grams is written in law, but, it’s difficult to get a little more than half of the weight stipulated for each roll of bread. A sample of three units of bread, taken on the morning of the “counter-revolutionary” signs, a phrase also written into law, ended up weighing just 125 grams in total.

A hushed relationship between both of these events can be discerned, it’s like the exception of the incredible in a country silenced by violence against any attempt to speak freely, confirming the rule of a daily fact which is impossible to be wiped out by a whole army of painters, armed with thousands of brushes and tons of white paint.

Aside from the first years of revolutionary euphoria led by Fidel Castro, when still the vilified capitalist past wasn’t completely wiped out, during this past half a century of our afflicted history, it hasn’t been possible to offer the people, with regular quality and due weight, a “socialist” ration of the product that symbolizes food.

There aren’t ways of knowing the direct motivations lying behind the graffiti, people don’t normally risk themselves for problems that deliver them a blow every morning, like a court sentence, an inescapable destiny that they can’t, or don’t know how to escape from.

The Old Municipal Warehouse where seized products used to be taken for storage. A crew rapidly painted over the graffiti.

The closest thing to a possible coincidence that throws light on these “Down with Castro” graffiti, took place on July 14th when the current leader of the country closed a session of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, Cuba’s single-chambered and one-party parliament.

Word on the street points to the central topic of Raul Castro’s speech, whose words were considered the announcement of the Cuban authorities’ offensive against the Self-Employed and Non-agricultural Cooperatives, that is to say, the economic activities that lie outside the government’s control which were created as a result of the half-made reforms pushed forward by the current Cuban Head of State.

The general interpretation is a “step backwards”, nothing surprising given the ups and downs of the typical Castro brothers’ efforts when it comes to the economy. Fidel’s successor has even criticized himself and asked: “Has nobody analyzed the consequences that this has brought on and the problems that this haste has created?

Time weighs heavily on the historic leaders of the Revolution which began in 1959, first the string of failures that mark the distance between what’s been proposed and achieved, secondly, their age, something which is impossible to reverse.

Socialism’s skinny bread rolls, accompanied this Monday by an appeal to put an end to the exhausted leadership while rules Cuba, reminds us that, no matter how praiseworthy their efforts might be, in political terms, society will only appreciate those who bring about results.

Vicente Morín Aguado: ememultiplicada@nauta.cu
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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    The folks who make the bread are members of the Union, but like others they have to find a way of making a little extra money on the mercado negra. Hence the bread rolls and the supposed 200 gm and 400 gm loaves are underweight. Its all part of the economic system. Cubans love those heavily iced cakes for birthday celebrations and similar events. Guess where they get the flour?