Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A New Year and a new ration book in Cuba

The brave Cuban blogger, Yoani Sánchez, continues to document life in the worker's paradise of Cuba. She lives in a twilight of shortages and bureaucratic rationing. Why do so many liberals in the US look longingly at this disaster of a country?

The new ration book surprised us at the end of December, just when speculation was growing about the demise of this booklet with its grid-paper pages. It arrived, like every year, surrounded by anxiety and annoyance, submerging us in that avoidance-approximation conflict generated by the subsidized. In its little pages I notice the absence of many products that once made up the monthly quota, now reduced to just a monotonous repertoire with insufficient nutritional values and rising costs.

For the first time in our house we are all in the same age bracket among the five defined by the Ministry of Internal Commerce. Exactly in the box for 14 to 64 years my son appears, together with Reinaldo and me, but at least three generations of Cubans have seen the store clerks mark down what we can put in our mouths. Trapped in poverty, millions of compatriots depend on price assistance to survive. Rationing is a trampoline and falling is certain, a dependency we all wish would end, but that almost no one can let go.