Missing Beans and Rice

huelga_isa-english-copySeveral years ago I met a young woman about to travel outside the country for the first time. She had so many doubts about what she would find on the other side that she asked those who had already “crossed the pond” about even the smallest details. She wanted to know if she should take a coat or short sleeved clothes for the summer in Europe and if, with her slight knowledge of English, she would be able to be understood. She inquired about names, places and even flavors, as one of her principle fears centered around whether she would like the food over there. She feared, basically, that she would not find on her plate the rice and beans she was used to eating every day.

When she confessed this to me I wanted to laugh, but then I realized the awkward situation that a break in her dietary routine represented for her. Since childhood she’d been accustomed to that Creole combination and the thought of finding herself in front of a plate of vegetables seemed like a sacrilege. She was worried about having to eat just broccoli or spinach, as she had seen in some movies, and about going for more than a month without black beans and rice, which we call “Moors and Christians.” Her distrust reached the point to where she boarded the plane with her luggage loaded up with several pounds of her inseparable legumes and daily grain. She never returned from that trip because she settled in Northern Italy, apparently finding herself enchanted with the flavor of the place.

The impoverishment of our culinary culture, due to the chronic crisis in which we live, has gotten to the point where our palates experience barely a dozen flavors. The “proteins” that show up on Cuban plates are those contained in a hot dog, a slice of turkey hash, or a piece of beef liver. These products have the most affordable prices at the convertible peso stores and are imported, for the most part, from the country to the north so often mentioned in political slogans. Even pork has become unattainable and, in my neighborhood, when eggs are for sale there’s a joy as if it were the advent of the Three Wise Men themselves. The repetitive mix of rice and beans is also disappearing due to agricultural disaster, drought, and the dysfunctional nationalization of our fields. Now we have to fork over double and even triple the cash to enjoy that congrí — black beans and rice — for which my friend was about to abort her trip to Europe.

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118 thoughts on “Missing Beans and Rice

  1. 116Damir

    Junio 24th, 2010 at 06:29
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Don’t be a liar dummy….. by your comment we know you are a communist, a hater of immigrants and colored people, a stupid hater of cubans…… you have no idea of what you have but hate to every thing.

  2. 115, you would lose that bet in a flash. Why would you do something as stupid as betting on something you cannot do…?

  3. Post 105, Ricky, that is exactly what I would like to see happen. In that we are on the same side. Cuban people have suffered long enough and it is time for them to be left alone. By Castros, by Miami mafia, by everyone. And decide their own destiny themselves.

  4. 112Ricky

    Junio 10th, 2010 at 17:46

    The point is that one the best goverments in the world will do the wrong thing if it serves their interest.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I know it is the way….. and I think this is the correct way any gov in the world must act for the best of its people…… that’s way despite my complains about USSR or USA or Mexico or Spain or whatever other govs in the world that acts in Cuban case as enemies of the Cuban people I place the guilty accusation not on those govs but on castro regime solely…….. this regime knowing all its actions has as result the people worst acts anyway as they does because they are only interested in personal benefits……. so….. al my complains on other govs are just to illustrate to explain the facts that brought Cuban people to its actual situation but not for place the responsibility out of castrofascism or the very Cuban people misbehaviors.
    Take care buddy…

  5. 112Ricky

    Junio 10th, 2010 at 17:46

    My beef is with these ex-agents, ministers or whatever that defect, leave and somehow think that when you defect you go thru some kind of morality car wash that washes away any wrong doing on their part. I understand that people can and do change their minds fine, not a problem. But please stay home and live a quiet life. Do you have to go on TV and tell your cuban stories with indignation (to steal one of your words) forgeting that you were a principal in the story that you’re now telling? Sig, if you used to be Fidel’s bodyguard, would you go on TV?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I understand you and I agree….. but today is not time for questioning these guys but receive them with fanfare …… tomorrow, when castrofascism is defeated, we can rescinded of them……..
    Castrofascism internal propaganda tries to make believe the Cuban military personal that freedom fighters wants they punished, isolated…… this propaganda tries to make de common Cuban that people in Miami wants to come back and take theirs homes, jobs and liberty…… wants make believe to regime’s collaborators they will be in jail or death if regime falls…… the best way to counter work this propaganda is to show the Cubans that they don’t need to be afraid of nothing if they have not blood in their hands……. make them sure we will not want their homes or jobs or nothing of them….. make them sure we will go there to help rebuilt our land back the wonderful country we had before castrofascism……….. if we dedicate to harass or isolate those ex-castrist when they desert we only will delay the desertion of other castrist that could become ex-castrists……….
    What can we do with those teachers and principals that humiliated us when child?????…… well, we maybe could accuse them of child abuse……. but it was 40-50 years ago….. the crime prescribed…… we can do nothing………. not exactly, we can do something…… I use to joke about the punishment that I want for all those bullies that mobs freedom fighters, the people participates in the so called repudiation meetings, the informers, the collaborators, all those that helped regime to stay but have not blood in hands……. well, I want to built a big monument somewhere in Cuba, a big monument with the shape of a toilet with many normal toilets around the big one….. I would call it The National Mierdoleo (El Mierdoleo Nacional)…… there we will place in stainless steel letters the names of all these people and people would be allowed to go there and use the toilets……. and I would place this monument in the so called Plaza de la Revolucion…….that’s it.

  6. Sig, is clear by what you write where you heart is. I also know that my position or argument is mostly based on “what if”. I understand that “what if” does not carry a lot weigth. But, up to certain extend it could be relevant. “What if” you were born in France and I was born in Spain and Fidel was run over by a truck when he was 6. We would’nt be having this conversation today. “What if” 80% of the cuban population, hell make it 60% would some how get together one day and say. Sorry but no more CDR for me I’m out, no more volunteer work, no rallies either, no pañueleta for my kids, no more of this compañero crap if your name is Juan I’m calling you Juan. I’m just going to work because I have to feed my family, but don’t count on me for anything else. You, myself and the same for a few others did not became pioneers. Your family and my family were clear, we knew that a lot of what was going on was wrong and acted accordinly the only way or the most suitable way we could at that time. “What if” the other kids families that felt the same way would have done the same insted of going along. Our small act of defiance could have started something. There is many ways to fight a system with out arms. Refusing to go along is one of them. I’m not a very religious person; however I have to admire the Jehova’s Witnesses they refused to become pioneers, they also refused to go in the service, for religious reasons, but the point is that they refused. It might not sound like it, but I don’t have anything against people in Cuba, well maybe a couple and you know their names. If you are a communist and you believe in the Party from the bottom of your heart, you’re misguided but it shows that you have principles, even if they happen to be the wrong principles. I respect people with principles even if I don’t agree with them. My beef is with these ex-agents, ministers or whatever that defect, leave and somehow think that when you defect you go thru some kind of morality car wash that washes away any wrong doing on their part. I understand that people can and do change their minds fine, not a problem. But please stay home and live a quiet life. Do you have to go on TV and tell your cuban stories with indignation (to steal one of your words) forgeting that you were a principal in the story that you’re now telling? Sig, if you used to be Fidel’s bodyguard, would you go on TV? With regards to goverments, some are much better than others, but they can all be count it on to do whatever is in their best interest, right or wrong. What you said about the US and their “friendly enemy policy” I believe it and I’m not surprised. I was in the US Army from 1974-84, 1st Inf Div, Germany, 82 Abn, Ft Bragg and 7th SF Group also in Bragg. When I was with the 7th Group I was one of 55 that were sent to El Salvador as advisiors for the salvadorian army that at the time was fighting the FMNL. More than 20 never came back, do you think any of this was on the news? I can tell you that the people that we supported were worst than the people they were fighting. You should have seen some of the s#$% they did. Reports from us were sent out, Group HQ, the Pentagon, everybody knew what was going on, but we still supported them. Why, because it was in the best interest of the US. I would give you more details, but I don’t know how much of it still classified. The point is that one the best goverments in the world will do the wrong thing if it serves their interest. Sig, I let you go for now, have to get an X-ray maybe this f#$^&&g cast can come off.

  7. Ricky

    Junio 9th, 2010 at 20:39
    sorry….. “can say and do what they want, when they want to”
    See post 106
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Don’t worry I understand………………….. thanks for debating Ricky……. there is nothing bad with it as long we are seeking the truth…….. I hope continue………. tomorrow…….. it is 2:40 in the morning!!!!!

  8. 105Ricky

    Junio 9th, 2010 at 20:25
    With regards to Damir, not sure what you mean about companion or sides.
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    It was a joke about the “piropo” he said to you……….

  9. 103Ricky

    Junio 9th, 2010 at 12:07
    Sigmund I also know that you mean well, but in my opinion (meaning that I could be wrong) is not the people’s mind outside Cuba that needs to change,………………. I can only especulate on the reasons. But that’s not going to change anything.
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    You know what?????…… you and me are outside Cuba, then we can not influence the situation inside directly but we can influence this situation indirectly…….……… by changing our way to think ……… you are not the first person that I find with serious prejudices about people living in Cuba or people now living out Cuba but that stayed in long time……
    1964 I was 9 years old when “Mandatory Military Service Law” (the so called and feared Patter Potestas Law) came to light. My older brother was 15 and the law left him without possibilities to emigrate legally until he reaches 28 years old. I was like you an anti pioneer child, my parents and relatives were very proud of me….. Other “rebels” children in my school and me suffered a daily humiliation every morning in the school morning parade when we were put aside, isolated from the other children and marked as “different” ….. my parent, specially my proud father, told me every day after school “Don’t worry, we will be out of here soon”…….he was talking about emigration, we had everything ready to emigrate, all papers, permits, affidavits, etc…….. Then came the law and my brother went to the military service, family’s emigration planes went up like smoke……. My brother could not leave the country in 13 years………. the only option left for us was to escape in a raft or a boat with a lot of luck…….. but we were not so desperate…… to leave Cuba in a raft or a boat with 6 children is a crazy thing……. The time passed and my parents explored every single option to get out the country……. But the options got complicated when it was time to decide who would go first and who later…. A deal over this issue never was reached……….I got 15 too and also became a regime’s hostage until 28 years………. my brother got married, my older sister too, my father died, my mother got older……… Mariel !!!!!……….. finally a solution !!!!!………….. the whole family could leave the country now…… together………. No,no,no…… 2 persons for each boat renter ……. So, the boat where my cousin came to rescue the whole family had 4 renters…… those renters could take 2 relatives each out of Cuba…… the rest of the boat would be fill with patients of mental hospitals and prisons inmates…….. we was a lot more then in 1964, so, we had no a chance to go all together…………. Finally one of the other renters announced that his family could not reach a deal about who will leave and stay and they had decided to renounce the right to place 2 persons in the boat……. So, now it was an opening for 4 persons instead of 2……. The other 3 renter sorted the vacancies and my cousin won the “lotto”…….. my brother, his wife and his 2 sons got the prize and finally left the country 16 years after he got kidnapped by castrofascism Patter Potestas law.
    I was not so lucky, dear Ricky, I had not a chance to leave the country together with my children and wife until 1991 when we escaped to Europe in one of those rare opportunities Cubans gets sometimes………. But this is a long history.
    As you see… people does not stay in Cuba because they want….. regime has implemented a lot of law that make very difficult to leave, specially young people because regime fears a lot young people and try to control them as long as possible….. it is more difficult to take out of Cuba a child or a young then to get the lottery. There are a lot of people that has got through these experiences. Those peoples had to develop a live there in, we had to study, to work, to try to find the way to survive. The musician had to develop its talent, the baseball player, the doctor too, the mechanic……. Many people in USA most of them long term emigrants pretend that people that had to stay in Cuba for any reason must have been like the invisible man inside the island….. it is no possible dear friend, even inside the prison, in a concentration camp you have develop a life….. that it is quite unfair to try them as suspicious…… and over all it cause division and it is used by castrofascism……..
    I know the main concern of long term emigrates is “why those millions of Cubans does not do something???”……… In my case, if I would had the right age I would have die in the mountains….. but I was too young…….. If I would had contacts I would joint the Humans Right Fighters in 1980 but I have not the right contacts….. you can not go and knack Coco Farinas door and ask him for membership in his organization……. It is required an avail….. and even so, many times happens that these organizations are infiltrated by regime………. 1987 I finally got in a Human Right organization ……… 1989 I was in jail…….. 1991 I was in Europe.
    Another thing that people has to learn is that not everyone has vocation to fight for freedom…….. Usually the percent of population that participates in fighting, all kind of fighting is minimal ……… revolutions, counter revolutions, tyrants and kings falls are performed by minorities……. And Cuban s are not different than other people.
    So, we have to change our way to think in order to help the fighters inside….. we have to star adding instead of taking……………………… if former castrofascism supporters left the sinking boat and jump to our side then let’s cry 3 hurrahs for them………. You keep an eye on them but don’t reject them because the easiest way to defeat an army is to get all their soldiers on your side.
    I repeat to you dear fried……… there are around 11.030.000 Cubans that has lived a whole life inside Cuba……. To live there and not participate in some degree of regime’s system is impossible and is impossible to pretend more than a minority of Cubans to participate in the fight against regime….. if we trait this people like enemies the profiteer of this action is the regime…….. if we reject regime’s deserters is the regime who benefits of this action……….. then changing our way to think we fight regime, we moves its floor…….. let’s unite all factors against regime, lets destroy it…..

  10. 102Ricky

    Junio 9th, 2010 at 11:46
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Ricky, dear, from 1962 to 1975 cuban nation waged a kamikaze war against castro, USSR and USA. Farmers, peasants and country men from Cuba’s central provinces participated in huge quantities in this war and transformed the mountains of the central province in the most powerful treat for castro regimen surviving ever existed. People from the occidental and oriental provinces also waged war in the mountains of those provinces. It was a very uneven war because castro had a huge army backed by soldiers and experts from USSR and backed by many Cubans that at this time supported castro regime. At this time USA started it “friendly enemy” policy (that last until today) that led to the interference of USA against the war of the Cuban nation on castro. I will not extend me over USA’s negative interference in this war but you can find proves about these facts in declassify documents of FOIA.com (freedom of information act) and Center for Latin American Studies of Florida’s International University. I only will resume that USA honored (and still honors) the “neutrality” pact (Jruschev/Kennedy pact) despite intelligence informs that states USSR never would take further actions in case of US attack on castro, USA intercepted and confiscated (and still does today) every single war expedition with weapons and men that was discovered, USA warned all Latin American Countries about cooperating with Cuban rebels especially Dominican Republic, USA lifted partially the economical embargo several times according castro regime’s needs. More than ten years resisted this peasant’s army in the mountains with little or no support of any kind but what Cubans in exile could make, hundred of thousand residents of the rural area where rebels operated were sent to concentration camps in other provinces to avoid them support the rebels. On this irregular army were used all regular, chemical, strategically and mass killing weapons the soviets had, on this army were used all sophisticate intelligence institutions of Warsaw Pact and USA. Of course, Cuban nation were defeated. This defeat cost tens of thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands of people in prisons for decades and millions of emigrants. This defeat caused the fall of the Cuban people and the enslavement of our nation. So, dear friend, the history is not exactly about 51 years “of trying from the outside” or “millions going along with the system”…. No, the Cuban nation made it fight with courage but without support …..and maybe the timing was not correct….. but they fought like kamikazes. When a nation is defeated in the way Cubans were, when a nation does not see from abroad the signs that make them sure to jump over the tyrants in the confidence of killing the beast in the first intent with the needed support of neighbors and friend, this nation remain in stand by, awaiting the right moment…… that is the first and more powerful reason because Cubans apparently put aside the fight since 1975 until 1980.
    In 1980 cubans started to fight again but this time we developed an unconventional fight Gandhi style. Valladares, Boffil, Chanes de Armas, Sanchez Santacruz and many others…… were the pioneers of this new strategy. The Cuban nation knowing it was impossible to fight a tyranny supported by the 2 world superpowers choose to develop a civil confrontation instead an armed one.
    In 1962 it was easy to recruit people to fight, the tyranny was starting to implement the confrontational society polarization using abusive and criminal methods long before proven in other communists countries to get the disintegration of civil society in 2 hating poles. From 1980 until today the recruiting or adhesion of followers to the pacific fight has been quite harder because the civil society is already polarized and to avoid become part of a pole has been the survival strategy of Cubans along this time. People adhesion to freedom fight has been increasing exponentially from 1980. Of course, in 1980, only 5 years since the last rebel was killed in Escambray Sierra, with the country full of soviet troops and USA’s presidents of both parties signing year after year the Act of Neutrality, to ask a Cuban to joint a group to fight regime did sound like a joke. Today it doesn’t sound like a joke anymore, the world has changed, new technologies has made the freedom fighters anywhere in the world closer to public world opinion than ever and however more protected by this public opinion. USA’s presidents still maintain the same “friendly enemy” policy toward castro but Cuban nation in exile is much more political influential inside USA than ever. Conditions has changed a lot, that’s is why you start to see more and more Cubans going in freedom fight and some of them ready to offer their lives.
    Gandhi never fought a communist-fascist regime……. I would like to see him to fight a regime that controls all, absolutely all aspects of life in the country and is ready to kill millions, to incarcerate millions, to kill children, to indoctrinate, to isolate, to make you dependable of absolutely all your needs of regime you fight…. This regime was surely not The English Empire. More than 20 millions killed the soviets, more than 100 millions killed Mao, Pol Pot killed more than 2 millions…….. and still , the Kims of North Korea has killed more than 5 millions…….. and still people wonders why Cubans stay quiet!!!!!
    Yesterday I wrote about other elements of the castrofascist system that help regime to control the people…. Tell me if you want to learn about this….. it is in Spanish.

  11. sorry….. “can say and do what they want, when they want to”
    See post 106

  12. correction,

    I made the correction so you don’t think that I’m suggesting there should be laws against speech. The “do” part of the sentence should be legal (can’t kill someone just because you want to).

  13. With regards to Damir, not sure what you mean about companion or sides. But if Damir is on the side that wants an end the shortages of food and the suffering that the cuban people must endure. If he wants a Cuba that can choose freely how and by whom is to be governed. A Cuba where his citizens can say what they want when they want to, provided that is legal. Then I guess I’m on his side or better yet, he’s on my side.

  14. Sigmund in an earlier post you mentioned my “indignation”. You’re very perceptive. I tell you where this indignation comes from. I broke my leg 3 weeks back. I’ve been sitting on my ass at home watching tv, reading ,etc. In other words bored out of my mind. My oldest son came to visit and suggested that I watch YouTube. I’m not a big computer person, so I never seen YouTube before. I never lived in Florida, NY or in any state with a big concentration of cubans. Therefore I was not aware of programs like A Mano Limpia or Maria Elvira. It was a pleasant surprise to see these programs posted there, whow fresh news from Cuba. The surprise turned into indignation very quick, this is why. “Today we have on our program so and so ex-counter intellegence agent, or ex-minister of this and that, etc,etc”, they were all ex-something. This people were beyond just people that went along trying to survive. They were very much part of the goverment they are now criticizing. Can you trust or respect these people? Is this the case of “el barco se hunde salvese quien pueda” and the best way to save your behind is to switch sides? The kicker was an ex-bodyguard of Castro, this guy is describing how bad an evil Castro is, but yet he stood in front of him with a gun in his belt and did not used it. What do you think Zapata Tamayo would have done in that situation?

  15. Sigmund I also know that you mean well, but in my opinion (meaning that I could be wrong) is not the people’s mind outside Cuba that needs to change, if you’re cuban and you live outside Cuba is clear what your opinion of the goverment in Cuba is. The opinion that have to change is the opinion of the people that live in Cuba. If that changes the system will change, it has to. Maybe I give the cuban people too much credit, I just don’t think they can be that dumb or that scary that will allow a goverment to go on for so long. They know how life is in other countries, this is a fact. Is not like they don’t have any information, they do. I can only especulate on the reasons. But that’s not going to change anything.

  16. In my opinion the only people that can change Cuba is the cuban people in Cuba right now. Fifty one years of trying from the outside has done nothing or very little. The reason why is because millions in Cuba go along with the system. Either for personal gain or because they approve of it. I don’t believe that they don’t have another choice, they have one, they just have to make the choice. The dissidents and others made the choice. The 64,000 question is, what’s keeping the rest from doing the same? intimidation? not intimidating enough for the dissidents, they expect something from the goverment or they believe in it is more like it. If the millions that live in Cuba wanted a total and complete change it could happen, but they have to want it, there is ways to force that change. Gandi once said “there is nothing that the British Empire can do if millions of indians refuse to cooperate”

  17. 100Damir

    Junio 9th, 2010 at 08:19
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    Here you have Ricky ….. this is the companion you get when you start to talk same thing castrofascism does…………. don’t get me wrong….. I know you are quite different to this retarded agent, different ideology, different IQ and different soul……. but anyway……… your words place you both on same side.

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