Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Bread Corner

23rd and 12th is known for many things, including bread sold in pesos, CUCs, and on the ration book.  Saturday morning the Bread Odyssey unraveled;  the ration store didn’t have enough bread to satisfy the per person allotment, nothing was for sale in the “liberated” bakery where bread is sold in Cuban pesos, and the hard currency confectioners was empty, they didn’t even have candy.

The popular version: there is no flour; the official version: …?  The curious thing is that in the convertible peso stores the usual shortage of castile flour is no worse, at its “reasonable” price of 5 CUCs for 5kg (roughly 40¢ U.S. a pound).

Meanwhile, the temperature drops and the line grows, mixing with the line at the bus stop.  In parallel, in the convertible peso stores, the only place where you can buy the majority of the products in the basic market basket, the windows display their shelves empty of goods.

No one knows what is going on.  The newspaper keeps on talking about Chavez, Columbia and increasing domestic agricultural production, the TV illuminates super productive factories that exceed their annual plans, and the radio repeats, like a parrot, Fidel’s Reflections.  My neighbors in the bread line theorize about a new wave of need.

On the sidewalk in front I look at the long line of those who wait and am reminded that once, in a far off country, the grain of sand that was the last straw for a people and ended up dethroning a king was, precisely, the shortage of bread.


Humberto Capiro said...

NY TIMES: Contractor Jailed in Cuba Was Aiding Religious Groups, U.S. Says
Published: January 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — "The United States contractor detained in Cuba last month and accused of being a spy is a 60-year-old social worker from the Washington suburbs who had gone to Cuba to provide communications equipment to Jewish nonprofit organizations, according to American officials.

In postings on the Internet, the contractor, Alan P. Gross — whose identify had not previously been made public — said he had more than 20 years’ experience in development work around the world. One of his Internet networking sites said he had been a volunteer field organizer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

American officials say that Mr. Gross had gone to Cuba as part of a United States government program and was providing encouragement and financial assistance to religious nonprofit groups. The officials acknowledge that Mr. Gross entered Cuba without the proper visa, though they contend that he was not involved in any activities that posed a violent threat to the Cuban government. And they flatly dispute any allegations that he is a spy."

"Mr. Gross has visited Cuba several times, delivering computer and satellite equipment to three Jewish community groups, according to people with knowledge of his work."

Humberto Capiro said...

Cuba :La bloguera cubana Yoani Sánchez acusa a Cuba de querer eliminar a los blogueros y de manipular a los periodistas

La bloguera cubana, Yoani Sánchez, acusó este miércoles a las autoridades de la isla de tratar de "silenciar" y "eliminar" a los blogueros que escriben desde Cuba y de "manipular" a los periodistas que trabajan en medios de comunicación del país, desde el portal digital, 'Generación Y'.
"Les llevó tiempo comprenderlo, pero se están dando cuenta. Ya saben que para silenciar a un blogger no pueden usar los mismos métodos que lograron acallar a tantos periodistas. A estos impertinentes de la web nadie puede despedirlos de la redacción de un diario, ni prometerles una semana en Varadero o un auto Lada como compensación. A un blogger, para anularlo, hay que eliminarlo o intimidarlo", escribe la cubana.

La bloguera atribuye esta respuesta tardía de las autoridades de la isla contra los escritores en red a la celeridad con que se han desarrollado este tipo de herramientas digitales que permiten expresar libremente la opinión y darla a conocer globalmente.

"Los bloggers llegamos después, entre otras razones porque la tecnología ha tenido una lenta aparición entre nosotros. Me atrevería a decir que las autoridades no se imaginaban que los ciudadanos apelarían a un recurso planetario para expresarse lejos de su alcance. Una red satelital que ofrece a quien se lo proponga la posibilidad de colocar sus opiniones de forma prácticamente ilimitada", sentencia Yoani Sánchez.

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Humberto Capiro said...

WASHINGTON POST: Cuba cold snap kills 26 at psychiatric hospital

The Associated Press
Friday, January 15, 2010; 4:02 PM

HAVANA -- "Twenty-six patients at Cuba's top hospital for the mentally ill died this week during a cold snap, the government said Friday.

Human rights leaders cited negligence and a lack of resources as factors in the deaths, and the Health Ministry launched an investigation that it said could lead to criminal proceedings.

A Health Ministry communique read on state television blamed "prolonged low temperatures that fell to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) in Boyeros," the neighborhood where Havana's Psychiatric Hospital is located.

It said most of the deaths were from natural causes like old age, respiratory infections and complications from chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular problems."