Goodbye to Rationing

Every day brings us closer to the new year and, with it, the growing alarm over the job cuts and reductions in subsidies facing us in the coming months. A phrase from Raul Castro’s latest speech — “continuing on the edge of the precipice” — is not a metaphor but our painful reality. Among the social assistance that will be eliminated is the so-called ration market, which distributes a small monthly quota of products to each citizen. No one can survive eating only what is recorded in his “ration book,” a document even more important here than our identity card. But extremely low wages and high prices in the country’s other markets make the abolition of this subsidy dramatic and highly controversial.

It is not only a basic, though meager, support, but it is like the birdseed that justifies the cage. Whenever the tone of criticism rises and dissenters began to point to the system, officials emerge to remind us that the government spends millions each year to provide us a few beans, a packet of coffee every thirty days, and that slice of bologna that feeds popular humor more than stomachs. So it has been for more than forty years, since the establishment of the regulated market. At the time, my parents thought it would be a temporary, a transitional measure until the planned and centralized economy began to bear fruit. Within a few days of my birth, my name was inscribed in the register of consumers, and twenty years later I had to enter the name of my son in the same list. Rationing has become so ingrained in our lives that many do not know whether to laugh or cry at the news of its end.

We are all aware that keeping the “booklet” is unsustainable for the national economy, but few can imagine life without it. In our house, we have decided to put the little book of graph paper we’ve been given for 2011 in a safe place, because if it really is the last one, surely it will become a historic document. Those who defend its immediate elimination are sure it will mean the automatic appearance of tons of goods on the free market, and they assume this will cause prices to drop in this market not regulated by the state. But perhaps the biggest change might be in the minds of the people; when they sense that the tiny portion of seed is no longer being placed inside the cage, they may begin to feel the real pressure of each one of the bars.


20 thoughts on “Goodbye to Rationing

  1. the cuban economy is “regulated” the pricing is controlled, the supply & demand is controlled as well ergo: there is no competitive pricing of goods since the artificial price rules & the cost of producing the goods is “unknown” by the people but known by the regime.
    There will be a great time of adjustment of re learning ho to work for a living, of learning how to compete again in a free market & many other life adjustments.

  2. hm..if this is the last year/last time of using raiton cards it certainly well be a historical document. when i tell people in my country about the ration cards in cuba the nearly not belive me, that this type of system still exist in our world..
    for some west world people things in other type of situations can be very difficult to understand.
    but my thinking goes to how the cubans will experience the change. what will be the consequences for families in daily life? what will it make to the base food prices in the county? is it good or bad in this time with a change? ….in a long-term i think it will be good, is one step on the way to let the people free…

  3. The cage’s door is almost open … w/its opening a new reality is been offered to an otherwise controlled life.
    There is room for choices, for a future, for hope just by the cage door been open.
    The time to fly out of it is comming, the choice to fly out & look, live & again feel the air of freedom …
    For the ones that know how it feels to regain freedom the first step is the one that starts the journey, to recover our humanity to let free our hopes, to know that it is true … there is a future, there is life … it is freedom.

  4. Here are the lies and deception from supposedly “pragmatic demo cratic capitalism”:

    The article contains further links to reputable and serious organisations looking for the truth in this nazist/fascist dictatorship conspiracy from supposed “democrats”.

    That is what the team “yoani” wants for Cuba too.

    But, isn’t that exactgly what they are claiming to be against…? Oppresion, arbitrary detention with no need to even inform a detained person why s/he is locked up? Refusal to recognise your individual freedom and limit your right to freely walk down the bloody street, let alone go overseas.

    Such is “pragmatic democratic capitalism”. As long as it is good for business, it is good for government.

    People? What people? As Rotschild grandson said in 1990′, “Who cares about the masses? They are here to do what we tell them to do.”

  5. @#14
    the original comes back?
    You lost your accent, you sound american now.
    Perhap a review of your “persona’ is needed, I suggest you read “your” pronouncements” of the last year.
    Specially the ones where you come accross not as the idealist but as an insulting, racist bully.
    All the while not onece have you stated the purpose of yur contributions.
    The only things you have come up with are insults, provocations, abuse of language, misrepresentations of the truth & twisting of facts which the “avalanchito” & others have provent time & time again.
    I think that while the “original” is gone (to jail?) the substitutes are doing a sod of a job …

  6. Admittedly, I do doy mierda.

    But hey, the team “yoani” is the author of everything cocksuckers here have declared mierda.

    Well, keep eating it losers.

    But it is a pleasure to keep bringing down the losers.

    See, to me it became cristal clear long time ago that the team “yoani” are the top echelon of Castro lovers.

    But, it has been proven, also long time ago, that to have idiots and retards understand that is a battle that cannot be won.

    I have quoted many a time from their own words, and all these retards could come up is that I am some “castrofascist”…

    That is the team “yoani” kids.

    And their idols brothers Castros, of course.

    But YOU are the stupid ones here. And YOU will never understand that simple fact because the brain, a properly working one, is needed for that.

    The thing that YOU do NOT have…

  7. The thing here is that when my comments only provoke personal insults, these actins simply confirm what I say to be correct.

    See, no one can desmantle teh facts.

    And I simply repeat and quote the team “yoani” themselves.

    So, the sweet irony is that even if you had the intellectual capacity to debate with me, you would be losers.

    Because I simply quote from the team “yoani”, if you manage to prove me wrong, you will prove the team “yoani” wrong too.

    I win any way you look at it.

    Just a few personal insults. There’s nothing else they can do. We all know hte team “yoani” is a bunch of criminals with murky connections in russian and mexican underground.

    Bunch of criminals pretending they are fighting for the Cuban people, but in reality just fighting for their own benefit.

    I have recalled their own words as a proof.

    What have you losers got to prove me wrong?

    Nothing. Just by saying Damir is wrong, you ARE SAYING the team “yoani” IS WRONG.

    Hence insults. You know “she” and “her” team are liars and criminals so instead of providing arguments against Damir, you only insult.

    Keep the team “yoani” away from their own lies. Save the face.

    It ain’t workin’…


  9. Dambir, I’ve been in Cuba many times and I have to say that Yoani is right while you are just one of the many propaganda tools employed by the Cuban Government as they are trying to prove that communism and starving their own people is the right way.

  10. Enemies of their own country, those cuban losers and criminals, licking the shit off the white yankees’ shoes, just so that they get a pat on the head from those yankees, the cuban emigrants are ommitting one little detail.

    There are over 60 (SIXTY) countries in both Americas.

    Only one is a socialist/communist country.

    That one country is Cuba.

    That same ONE socialist/communist country is TENTH on the United Nations list of the countries with the higherst health and general living standard.

    Cuba is the TENTH country on the list.

    In fact, on the list for the health achievements it is even NINTH.

    Out of over SIXTY countries.

    One single question: if Cuba is soooo bad as the team “yoani” would want us to believe (and you have to be a mental retard to believe to that patological liar) how come UN ranks it so HIGH!!!!????

    No dispute on general stupidity and ineptness of the twobrothers. We all agree on that single point. The two Castros are the worst losers ever.

    But the facts about Cuba, as a whole, speak a story quite different to that the team “yoani” would love to impose on people who do not live or never have been in Cuba.

    And that is called a DECEPTION.

    Liars do that. When they do, they have ulterior motives which they are hiding from you.

    Id they didn’t (hide their real motives) you would never fall into their trap.

    Now, my question for you is: what is the trap for?

    Think about it the next time you read another rediculous post by the team “yoani”…

  11. A few that actually make comments relevant to the subject initiated by the team “yoani” still do not want to admit what are the team “yoani” eally trying to achieve. Reading their coments, and those of the team “yoani”, one would think the things are only bad on one side. The Cuban one, of course.

    But, we all know that the reality is significantly different. “free and pragmatic capitalism” has disintegrated.

    If it were sooooo goooood, why did it happen?

    If it were sooooo superior, how come it is now in shambles and one after another country that only yesterday were “symbols” of that capitalist “superiority”, are now defunct and bakrupt…?

    Not to mention their draconian laws curbing the “freedoms”, better than those two inept brothers in Cuba could ever do, under the false pretext of “terrorist threat”.

  12. I would like to e-mail another comment and it is that freedom of thought is a prerequisite to freedom of enterprise. This means that you cannot have a totalitarian ideology, like in Russia or China, run the path to a free economy.

    I have this old quote on my website : ««Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty; without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.
    This sacred privilege is so essential to free government that the security of property and the freedom of speech always go together; and in those wretched countries where a man can not call his tongue his own, he can scarce call any thing his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.» (The Cato Letters, no. 15, 4 février 1720)»

  13. A good text from you Yoani. A communist regime, or any collectivist economy, cannot decree the curtailment of benefits (although hidden by awkward decisions based on a awkward ideology). They must first boost the private economy and initiative. They must welcome the free market and access to private property, first. They must get rid of all hinders to private capital, including people from other countries (I would maintain certain and even increase certain rules, against laundered money or states trying to get over the Cuban government, like China, the Democratic Republic of Korea, and many Arab States). Believe me, many vultures are looking over Cuba, including the so-called friend Chavez who is making a hell of the Venezuelian economy.

  14. Let us remind readers who that “Yoani” is. It is a person, o persons, who is on the record by saying that s/he/they want a “some kind of pragmatic capitalism for Cuba”.
    Here’s why is that important. Let us have a look at those “jobs” the samaritans behind the team “yoani” are pushing:

    Take a careful look. One “job offer” is looking for people to send emails. Even in capitalism that is PUNISHABLE BY PRISON as it is considered a SPAM and SPAM IS ILLEGAL.

    Ok, leave that one… How about this one? Abogados Salazar… ahh… but wait… they actually sell European passports and drivers licences. From Mexico…!!!???

    Alarm bells MUST ring in your head. Mexicans selling EU identification documents, that CANNOT be legal. You know well you do not BUY passports, or drivers’ licence just like that, on the street…

    Except in “yoani’s” delusional “pragmatic capitalism”…

    Stay clear from those people. They are definitely criminals. I wonder what is that telling you about “yoani”…?

    A quick run through an online translator and before you know it, another scheme where desperate and poor Cubans will inevitably fall into the hands of unscrupulous criminals, this time directly under the “pragmatic capitalists” Putin and Medvedev management.

    And the list goes on, one advertisement worse than the other. Just about every one a criminal activity, or some kind of Ponzi scheme. All ILLEGAL even in the capitalism.

    I don’t know about you, but whoever advertises criminal activities as “jobs”, when it is clear that these have bugger all to do with employment, the honest one of course, I question the author too. And his/her intentions.

    To an objective observer the situation is cristal clear: the team “yoani” promotes the lowest level of humanity as a “better” choice for Cubans. They openly promote criminal activities because a desperate human being sometimes has no other options to feed the family.

    How low can the team “yoani” go?

    Make your own conclusions. But to thousands reading this blob, sorry blog… it is cristal clear who and what is real “yoani” and what are his/her/their real goal.

    Criminal exploitation of the vulnerable and desperate for her own benefit, instigatin destruction and panic in order to accelerate the chaos, which would greatly increase her/their own profits.

    Still in doubt? Just look at the job ads, or “real estate” ads, and you should fast realise what is really going on.

  15. Finally after 48 years the infamous Libreta, one of the artifacts that came out of the anti-economic genius of the Castro brothers, is being discarded. Forty eight years ago, if there was any tool that would disincentivise the people from producing and using their physical and mental energy, Castro was there wielding it and ready to implement it. As always, without asking intelligent questions, consulting with economists, or even listening to moderate socialists sympathizers from other countries.

    How many productive businesses, big and small, were disrupted or dismantled? What happened to the flourishing agricultural and food producing farmers, big and small, that fed the country? Some older relatives tell me that during some years, Haitians had to be brought in to tend to the fields because there was a shortage of laborers to perform the work.

    Surely there was poverty in many places, but poverty can be difficult to completely eliminate in any society, just as alcoholism, family overpopulation, mental and catastrophic illnesses can be difficult to completely eradicate. All factors which contribute to individual and family poverty.

    Now, half a century later, as Yoani points out in one of her interviews, the “king without clothes” walks around seemingly unaware of his complete lack of moral and intellectual backbone. The catastrophic failure all around, is no more visible to him than his invisible clothing is to clear thinking members of the population.

  16. ***
    Poor Cubans will die of hunger soon. No job–no money–no food. The revolution will come soon. Look for some ropes.
    Cubanos pobres moriran de hambre en poco tiempo. No trabajo–no dinero–no comida. La revolution esta acercando. Busca unas sogas.
    John Bibb


    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba Slashes State-Subsidised Soap-Cash-strapped Cuban government slashes state-subsidised soap from ration books-By JENNY BARCHFIELD

    Suds will no longer be quite so subsidized by the state in communist Cuba, as soap, toothpaste and detergent join the growing list products slashed from monthly ration books under government cost-cutting efforts.

    Cuba’s official Gazette reported Wednesday that effective Jan. 1, “personal cleanliness products” are to be cut from the from the ration books that islanders have come to rely on for a small but steady supply of basic goods.

    Cubans currently pay about 25 centavos, or about a penny, for a rationed bar of soap. They’ll soon have to fork out four to six pesos, according to the gazette.

    The list of products available with the ration books has shrunk in recent months as the government trimmed items deemed nonessential. Cigarettes, salt, peas and potatoes have been cut. Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other products remain.

    The ration program began in 1962 as a temporary way to guarantee food staples for all Cubans in the face of the United States’ then-new embargo. Designed to tide people over, it has long provided a measure of food security in a country where average wages hover around $20 a month.

    Authorities say the cuts are necessary to free the state — which pays for or heavily subsidizes education, health care, housing and transportation — from a crushing economic burden.

    Other, more drastic cost-cutting measures have also been announced, including the layoffs of about half a million state workers.

    Critics contend that by slashing the ration books, the state is breaking with what has been a sacred covenant of the island’s 1959 revolution: to provide all Cubans with at least the basics.

    Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez in Havana contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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