Saturday, February 23, 2008

Castro's Legacy - Hungry People

In the news today. In Cuba people spend their time and energy worrying about having enough food to eat. NY Daily News Many Cubans here are fond of saying, "Things are not meant to be understood." After a couple of days, you get a sense of what they're talking about.
Havana is a city of contrasts and contradictions, a place where the most spectacularly restored colonial building can stand near two crumbling structures held in place by wooden planks. ... A place where an egg can cost 15 cents, 90 cents or $1.50 - depending on where it is purchased. ... Each Cuban receives a monthly allowance of food, referred to as the libreta, or food from the bodega. It includes 6 pounds of rice, 10 ounces of two different types of beans, 10 eggs, chicken parts, sugar, salt and oil. Cubans pay for these items, but at a subsidized price. The rest of the produce comes from the agros. There are two kinds of agros, operating next to each other: the subsidized, state-run agros and the independent ones. The results can confuse even the best mathematician. For example, at the bodega, a pound of rice is 25 cents but at the agro it's more than 10 times that. Cubans can get only 10 eggs per month through the libreta. The first eight eggs are 15 cents each through the libreta; the last two are 90 cents each. A Cuban who wants more than 10 must go to independent sellers, where they cost the equivalent of $1.50 each. "People who say they can live on the libreta are lying to themselves," Dieguez Tamayo said.
Castro's big failure: for 50 years he didn't allow the people of Cuba to grow and market food to feed themselves. His Communist system left them hungry.

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