By clothing-bag, 01/02/2022

Who inflates inflation? - Vanguard

"If I continue to buy dollars, right now Biden gives me American citizenship." Tuesday May 18, on Facebook. The post generated more than 520 reactions. Resentful, sarcastic, bitter, or worried comments; some were amused by the "occurrence", others spoke of the black mouth of social inequity—barely concealable, like the bruises on one eye, which are hidden from the mirror under five layers of makeup but, nevertheless, continue to hurt— , and a few, overwhelmed, let their frustration leak into a space where empathy is more fallacious than Judas.

Twenty-four hours earlier, at dawn on Monday the 17th, hundreds and hundreds of people had occupied several blocks of Martí, Villuendas and Juan Bruno Zayas streets. The mission? Access to Siboney Varieties, the largest establishment on the Santa Clara boulevard, reopened a few days ago for ¡also! trade in MLC. The pre-scanning of the identity card — a measure implemented by law enforcement to try to shorten the leash on resellers — gave some security to those who simply wanted to buy products for family consumption. Error.

It was an open secret that the list had already been organized, since the weekend!, by the usual underground network: the omnipresent at the head of the line, "fathers" of the combos that were proposed on social networks within half an hour of opening the store, and the hope of the impatient with generous pockets, willing to pay 500 pesos for one of the first 30 numbers. The control?, only in theory and, unfortunately, unable to transcend beyond good intentions.

What then remains for those who cannot spend their nights waiting until morning, on a sidewalk or hidden behind a pole, as long as they are the one at the entrance to the store? What would the hordes leave for customer 460, which he was to buy on Friday? And what about those who depend solely on a salary or retirement, and have to divide their income by 60, 62, 65, because you never know what the informal exchange rate will be? In other words, what can those of us who do not profit from the general need expect?

The opening of the establishments that sell in MLC coincided with what we thought would be the worst months of the health and economic crisis, so demonizing the dollar as the cause of a deep gap in the population's purchasing power was a Munch's sort of shout with which many externalized their anxieties. However, thousands of Cuban families have benefited for decades from the monetary aid provided by children, parents, siblings and friends residing outside the island, especially in the United States, the country where more than 90% of Cubans live. senders of remittances to Cuba, whether through formal channels or not. According to the annual reports of the World Bank and several private consultants, between 2012 and 2018 the amount of cash issued remained in an ascending range that, at the end of 2019 —including merchandise and cash— had almost tripled. In fact, this aid went beyond the strictly parental framework and became the main source of financing for several of the more than 2,000 self-employment activities approved by the Cuban State.

In other words, the dollar (or its exchange value in CUC or CUP) has been roaming between Cabo de San Antonio and Punta de Maisí for a long time, only that the national economy was like a six-legged mule with two roads to choose. Today, Cuba has already unified its currency, but between the expenses and investments of all kinds generated by the scourge of the pandemic, the almost complete closure of tourist operations with the foreign market, the productive collapse, plus the restrictions of the Trump government, who, before he was kicked out of the White House with a historic kick, "gagged" Western Union and left regular and charter commercial flights barely a trickle - from more than 12,980 operations in 2019 to just under 3,000 in 2020 —, currency liquidity is thirsty.

I know, these are not after-dinner explanations to please the atmosphere. Not everyone can understand it, but it's the truth. Aggrieved, many of us have agreed to re-re-buy merchandise that could only be found in one of those stores. A bath gel for a child with psoriasis is not a superfluous expense, nor are disposable culeros for a senile old man, the gelatin for which a patient cries out under the effects of chemotherapy, cleaning, or a jam to give him to a little boy on his birthday. It is a question of dignity.

And speaking of these issues, neither could the national currency in which we are paid cast the first stone. Seeing, in the middle of last week, the table of products and prices of the butcher shop of the La Pelota market, in the Sandino de Santa Clara, I did my accounts and verified that a kilogram of dough for pork hamburger (390 pesos) , the same amount of smoked loin chop (455 pesos) and just over two pounds of mixed seasoned hash (298 pesos), the retired grandmother of a little friend of my son, the only breadwinner in a house with two minors, would leave the counter 75% of his monthly pension. The rest would have to be distributed between the payment of the fee, electricity and the aqueduct service. The pandemic, she says, has spared her at least the daily snacks for school. «Daughter, of the wolf, a hair».

Life, darling. Easy, easy, we have never had it, but that saying about the fishermen and the raging river has been hyperbolized to unbearable limits, even marginalizing too many of our fellow citizens. Since mid-April, the vox populi has maintained the theme of the basket module that was sold in the La Muralla store, of the Caribe chain, for Santa Clara women who were 26 weeks pregnant or who gave birth after January . In social networks, the matter had its peak moments, of fury, stability and depression. I myself called the Oficoda, while she was preparing this work, with the aim of going to the primary source of information and thus avoiding the "dealing" of rumours. "Yes, it's true, show up at the store with your pregnancy card, but hurry up, the "good" things are flying."

Flying, yes, high, very high, in sales groups on Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram, under false profiles and also with real names. The complete module cost around 7,000 pesos, although the women could choose which products to acquire and which not, depending on their real possibilities and needs.

However, what was supposed to be a long-demanded benefit for pregnant women fearful of getting sick with COVID-19 in one of the endless queues that usually accompany the sale of any basket item —from January to May 26, There were more than 1,000 pregnant women positive for the coronavirus in the country, of which three died and dozens were reported seriously ill—, degenerated, once again, into an opportunity to fatten inflation. Proposals appeared from resellers willing to pay 10,000 pesos! ! for the right to purchase, joined by many of the beneficiaries themselves who, without a hint of consideration or solidarity towards the other women who were left out of the distribution of the module, resold it, piece by piece, at four or five times its original value. Cars at 14,000 pesos, bathtubs at 2,500, three knobs at 600, bibs at 125 each… Like wolves, tearing us apart.

I do not resign myself to the idea that we have allowed ourselves to be degraded to the point of trampling on the sacred, nor do I believe that 100 state commissions are needed to first realize what is wrong and then meet, think and then generate transformations.

I would like to see the day when abundance, as a divine recipe and a thousand times recommended, heals the misery of the heart, although I suspect that this is the most difficult type of hunger to satisfy.

"We will win to the extent that the horizon of everything we do is always the greatest possible happiness for Cuban men and women": said a man who dreams, in the name of Cuba, and with his feet on the ground.