The Carmelites With Shoes


Attentive eyes, eardrums tuned to the elusive sound of the diversion of resources, and brown, almost earth-colored, uniforms. They are the “carmelitas,” a veritable army of inspectors who keep watch so that theft will not take the little we have left. They function as a protective body, not subordinate to the administration of the workplace where they are assigned; they answer, like soldiers, to a higher structure of command and control. In exchange, they earn a higher salary, several pounds of chicken every month, and an appetizing snack which they resell on the black market. They are the new army of auditors, in a country where the employees don’t measure themselves by what they earn, but by what they are allowed to pilfer to sell on the black market.

These controllers stay just a short time in each industry, to avoid their developing relationships with the employees and falling into the chain of corruption. In the cigar factories they must search the rollers so that they don’t sneak out leaves or cigars under their clothes; in the Suchel Plant in the municipality of Cerro they look through workers’ pockets for shampoo or perfume extracts; in the middle of the road they check every passenger on the bus to make sure they have a legal ticket; and at the Río Zaza company they had to prevent sacs of milk or tomato puree from walking out. Trained to check seals, close locks, and make a record of the products in a warehouse, they still haven’t managed to stop the constant embezzlement. It seems that the task of creating pockets of efficiency and control is impossible on an Island where looting the State is a means of survival.

The point is that the government knows that people steal from every workplace, but they also understand that closing all the conduits of this ransacking would create a climate of great social tension. Until now, the blind eye turned toward this pilfering was a way to maintain calm among the offenders so they would not demonstrate their discontent in other, more public, ways. The majority of citizens are aware of what they applaud or keep quiet about, to avoid any investigation into their own lives and bringing to light the illegal sustenance that feeds their family. For years this permissiveness toward embezzlement has been an efficient medium of exchange for passivity, hence the difficulty of eradicating it without dynamiting the system itself. The “carmelitas” will not be able to prevent the continued siphoning off of resources, because corruption is the sap that feeds, fundamentally, those who today send the army of auditors into the streets.

PS: I recommend reading the article by Esteban Morales: “Corruption: The True Counter-Revolution?

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62 thoughts on “The Carmelites With Shoes

  1. see … there is the perfect example of your attitude towards life’s reality.
    Your attempt to humor does offend.
    I like to remind you … not to take things like your freedoms & rights for granted.
    As you get older … you may change & realize you & your attitudes touch & may influence lots of lives, knowingly or unknowingly … but each touch can change a life or even the world in a single second … it starts w/your own children …
    That in itself is a responsibility, a measure of personal accountability, not a right nor an entitlement.
    What you believe now … may not be what you will believe as you get older … your actions however … will never change once you acted them … they will become your regrets … if only you don’t remain self centered & arrogant.

  2. but … how does your suggested video relate to repression?
    I guess your attempt to prove your point w/what you think is tangible proof for the non existence of repression demostrates your ingnorance of what repression “really” means.
    Perhaps you have read about it …or maybe you had the chance of seeing some movie or old faded pictures …
    I wish you could hear the screems, smell the stench of urine, feces & fear …
    or the erections of the sadist torturers who choose to follow the orders of the leaders you defend & the system you so admire …
    If you were there … calling for your mommy or begin them to stop … of one thing I am sure of … You would not think about your violated rights, of your entitlements & your idealistic truths … you would be thinking: “when will the pain stop?”
    Your arrogance will be gone, replaced w/the fearn of not knowing if you’ll survive …
    Afraid & alone … so read & read carefully, not all you see is what it seems, this video while great … does not represent a truth …

  3. Well … since truth is relative to personal perceptions … since your amply demostrated attitude is one of arrogance & constant argument w/no intentions of postulatiing positive constructive ideas/solutions or compromises of any kind …
    I realy don’t see where does your “contribution” fits nevertheless I thank you for your effort & for your suggestion …

  4. adjudicating statements? I suggest you read carefully …

  5. Albert,

    It is contradictory to say on the one hand, that the ruling/decision making class is composed of an elitist minority, as evidence by over-extended bellies; and on the other hand state that they’re the only ones affected by the US dastardly economic Blockade.

    The entire reading world knows that the only nation refusing to adhere to Cuba’s property laws that were implemented and enforced regarding foreign owned properties, and refusing to accept just and due compensation for them, was the US.

    As a matter of fact, here in the US, the Federal Supreme Court recently ruled that a City or any other administrative body can confiscate private property for a better use, if they deem it to be in the best interest of that administrative body. This happened all the time, particularly in the poorest sectors standing in the way of (corporate) progress. Only now, it applies to any sector, any time, and for whatever compensation they deem adequate, even if bellow market value, as has been the case with the poor. It follows then, that it t should not be difficult for leaders of a society inheriting a system of law founded in serfdom, to understand any other society’s sovereign right to administer and enforce property laws within their geographical boundaries, particularly when dealing with the best properties in the entire island.

    You can easily hold Cuba fully accountable for their economy when the Blockade is removed. Why, if you think it is a pretext, do you support it? If you are truly convinced of your position, then it is the easiest way to prove Cuba wrong. Since that would be contrary to your sponsors’ ambitions and hopes, it’s unlikely that you would seek such an advantageous solution to your stance.

    Wanton disregard for Cuba’s history? Look in the mirror. You deny the sadistic atrocities committed prior to the Revolution.

    Well, I can’t leave here because I’m looking for extremists here to assist me financially, and otherwise, with an international blog. I figured that since they are so enamored with justice, they may want to send some of those tax dollars squandered on them by our government, my way too. (Not!).
    Or maybe the President of the United States will not be able to tell the world that those Cubans in the US speak for every Cuban here, or even a majority of us; any more than they can seriously say that this blog is the only substantive source of information about life in Cuba.

    In the mean time, I have to rest from this interaction because my neighbor is at the door to let me rummage through her recycle bin for odd marks on her soda cans, since we are, after all, fighting a dastardly war against terrorism here. I’ll submit any suspicious materials for your expert opinion of the findings.

  6. I am lost … where is there a mention at all of Yoani’s “voice” being frail?
    The blockade is not against cubans … its against the regime.
    Perhaps for starters it is the result of unilateral decisions of nationalization & confiscation justified by the regime as entitlements or compensations.
    As time passed it evolved into what it is today …
    The US is not the only party involved … Cuba’s rebolution holds as much responsibility, to deny it will be a wanton disregard for its history.
    By the by … who is the mayor supplier of medicines in such for Cuba?
    Who is one of the larger the supplier food stuffs?
    Nevertheless I admire your moral strength, fortitude & restraint for not just living it all & goint to paradise.
    Living in the US … witness to exploitation, slavery, prostitution, drugs, terrible health system & every other imaginable cancer of society must be a burden … I guess you are staying … for the cause, for the struggle … while enjoying & exercising the freedom of movement, speech, the entitlements afforded to you by the tax payer …
    Plese don’t forget to say thank you for however imperfect the US is … it still as always striving for a better society …

  7. Albert,

    If her voice or any other person’s is so frail that it cannot withstand at least the simplest of critical analysis, from any one who wants to understand it, it will have no lasting effect.

    It is the resistance to that analysis that has centered the emphasis on her person rather than her reasoning; not the questioning analysis.

    Let me explain the metaphors:

    The gun is a metaphor for the US criminal blockade against Cubans, which adversely affects universal commerce, and does the greatest harm to ordinary folks in Cuba.

    The person holding the gun is a metaphor for the US, which is the egregious party in the matter, and the sole proprietor, by choice, of that gun pointed at a tiny island nation 90 miles from Key West.

    Cuba is represented metaphorically by the head having the gun pointed at it, since the unilateral criminal blockade is established by our country against Cuba, not the other way around.

    Finally, without any “signals” from the aggrieved party, the party (US) pointing the gun (blockade) can, at will, stop pointing it at the other party (Cuba).

  8. so let see … for starters: the unilateral nationalization of money & property has nothing to do w/the embargo I guess even then the sense of “entitlement” was in effect.
    If not entitlement, the justification is “the end justifies the means”
    If you are pointing a gun at me …
    why do you have a gun?
    why do you have a gun in your hand?
    why are you pointing the gun you have in your hand at me?
    choice one: have a gun
    choice two: have a gun in your hand
    choice three: have a gun in your hand pointed at me …
    And your expectation about my reaction is?
    Marti & Maceo surely did not died hoping Cuba would turn like it is today, that is my belief however: after carefule revisionism of their history … their words & actions have been twisted & misinterpreted in favor of the rebolution’s attempt to legitimize itself …

  9. Julio, what makes you think that “a signal” is necessary from a sovereign nation weighed by an oppressive blockade from the world‘s super-power? The greatest and fiercest super-power of ALL times! If I am pointing a gun at your head, and I want it to stop, all I have to do is remove the pointed gun from your head.
    Would Martí have given his life so that his nation could be coerced into giving signals to those who want to destroy it? Signals are the tools of prostitutes on street corners in L.A., and any city, town or borough in the USA.
    Stealing a problem? Try this for size: Enron, Wall Street bailouts in the billions of tax dollars, crooked bankers, the list goes on, and on, and on like a Sonny and Cher song.

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