The Elderly


He bought a box of strong cigars though he doesn’t smoke, a cloth bag for errands, though he already had one, and two boring copies of Granma on the same day. He did it to help the trembling ancients with their bloodshot eyes who sell endless bits and pieces on the streets of Havana. People with legs stiffened by arthritis, hair gone gray years ago, a cane to complete their spindly anatomy. Old men and women thrown into the informal market exhibiting their meager goods in the doorways of Reina, Galiano, Monte and Belascoain Avenues. Septuagenarians forced to sell their constantly dwindling ration quotas, sad-faced grandmas who eat thanks to the candy and peanuts they themselves sell outside schools.

Thousands of Cuban seniors — at the end of their lives — have had to return to work, this time facing illegality and risk. Hands shaking with Parkinson’s offer sugary snacks at bus stops, wrinkled faces offer razor blades for only five pesos. Their pensions are extremely low and the well-deserved rest they planned to enjoy has turned into jittery days hiding from the police. The system they helped to build cannot provide them with a dignified old age, cannot spare them from misery.

That ungainly octogenarian, dragging his feet to the corner, hawks sponges to scrub with and tubes of crazy glue to stick everything together. A passing girl checks the contents of her wallet. She doesn’t have enough for either one, but in the morning she returns to buy something, if only one of those national newspapers in whose pages the faces of the elderly are always happy and satisfied.

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15 thoughts on “The Elderly

  1. The results of 50 years of rebolution “vamos bien” was the slogan while the dependency on the state for food & other neccessities was created.
    While cubans worked & worked in the failed projects dreamed by the rebolution, the rebolutionary leaders sold the cuban patrimony to others in the name of an ideology.
    The catros never having worked a hard honest day in their life sudently became experts at telling the people what to do & what to do w/their lives.
    W/high words & false promises the lied to their fellow citizens in their quest for power, feeding their egos, looking for a place in history, their history.
    Never looking back unless it benefited them, unless it adided their hold to power.
    These animals never considered the consecuences of their actions, never caring about Cuba & her people.
    Now the time is here, the cuban people are suffering the results from every lie
    told, for every usless sacrifice.
    It is not just the failure of the system, is the guilt of having belived the lies, the remorse cubans feel in allowing this animals to twist the mind of the youth, is remembering the good people who’s trust was betrayed & died knowing that what they allowed to happen to Cuba is partly their fault …

  2. The blog post by yoani does not reference the man in the photo. The photo is simply another sad example of what she is describing. Her description is clearly not of, or meant to be, the man in the photo. Cigar, cloth bag, two copies of granma……let’s not lose the forest amongst the trees.

  3. Damir,
    Have you really nothing better to do than tell those who are living minute to minute in an oppressed society that they are in fact delusional. You, I can tell, do not wear the sandals of the oppressed. Stop pretending you do. Educate yourself and learn instead what path those sandals are walking instead of believing that your feet already walk on water. I can assure you, you do no such thing.
    I am certain you will keep posting as you surely get all tingly because this is the only environment you can get a reaction. Like a deprived infant who craves attention…..negative is better than none. Why, I ask, would you have ever even visited this site. Again, you will surely keep posting so I encourage all those who are followers and contributors to simply ignore damir and his soley self-interested agenda.
    Yoani, your courage is truly admirable.

  4. cigar smoking gold ring funny suits …yoani what happening ,,,maybe you should help that poor old man

  5. Post 9, with profanities and turetts the only input, the time to move on came on the day that uncivilised person posted for the first time.

  6. Dear Translator/Moderator

    With all due respect, if you are now going to add editor to your functions I suggest it would be best if you just delete out the entire message instead of taking it upon yourself to edit out portions of it. You’ve edited portions of my last two posts, the parts you’ve taken out were intended to be humorous. The edited words could be categorized as graphically descriptive but not profane, in the process you’ve turned at least one of the posts from humorous to insipid. If platitudes and milquetoast is now the rule of the day maybe it’s time for me to consider moving on.

  7. It is amusing to read about the wonders of yugoslavian architecture as described by the tito loving and soviet sycophant dumbir. Yugoslavian architecture?? … are you kidding me? Is this the best that you can find to brag about concerning that make-believe country known as yugoslavia? A country made up of a disparate group of ethnic minorities, enemies for centuries, all held together with duck tape, baling wire and comrade tito’s repressive political apparatus. This disaster of a “country” of course disintegrated as soon as the communist shackles were thrown off and old bitter enemies were at each others throats again. Yes, yugoslavia, the country known for the Yugo and ethnic cleansing. Where is this yugoslavia now? Oh, that’s right it fell apart just like the other disastrous slavic dynasty, the ussr. In dumbir’s topsy-turvy, delusional world of triumphant socialism (what he means of course is communism) and defeated capitalism; he day-dreams of puttering down the main streets of belgrade admiring the drab-gray soviet style buildings in his second-hand Yugo full of pride at the achievements of his triumphant socialism. This character, dumbir, is a fine example of the marxist “new man”. He types away and clings to his “ideals”, while tenaciously giving voice to the beloved myths of his past…

  8. Frank, you are obviously new to this blog. The retched character damir (among any number of the other names) has been repeating his constipated message for quite some time. A laxative will unlikely have any effect.

  9. Damir:

    Please, is there any other word besides “nazi” that you know? You are not, I repeat, you are not the controller or the person in charge of criticize somebody else opinion. You see, this is a free space to give an opinion, a though…Stop the broken record and have the courtesy to respect people. Could you do that? Maybe a laxative will help….

  10. Post three, Jose makes an excellent, but all too known, and expected, lie served by the same old incompetent team “yoani”. The very first sentence carries the same old silly and worn out nazist style lie that the team “yoani” thinks people today are as stupid as people 100 years ago and will fall for a lie as long as they keep repeating it…

    “He bought a box of strong cigars though he doesn’t smoke”

    “yoani”, have another look at the photo. Take note of a nearly burned out cigar in the man’s mouth.

    The photo and your pathetic post are telling us nothing about the “situation” in Cuba.

    Only about the situation in your heads.

    It’s chaotic, it’s incoherent, it makes no sense.

    I’ll try again. Hopefully, if I continue repeating the truth, it will too catch up and stick in your minds:

    please stop making fools of yourselves.

    Except for those three or four nonsense posting ancient emigrants here pretending that there are thousands of people behind you, no one in their right mind buys your outdated strategy.

    The circles of the right wing have shrunk irrevocably, the capitalism has distroyed itself and there are more important issues and themes in the world for the world to listen to your ancient cold war cries which just do not work any more.

  11. Really a sad reality for the elderly in Cuba. I wonder how is going to be now with the “new” regulations from the Castro’s….

  12. LATIN AMERICA HERALD TRIBUNE:WikiLeaks Documents Discuss Generalized Corruption in Cuba

    MADRID – Corruption in Cuba has become a generalized phenomenon that reaches into the top leadership of the Communist Party as well as into the ranks of professionals without any political affiliation, cables from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana released by WikiLeaks say.

    The newly released cables, which were written in 2006, show that the impoverished regime is “rife” with corrupt practices, the Madrid daily El Pais, which in Spain has the exclusive right to examine the information leaked by the Web site of Julian Assange, reported.

    “Corrupt practices also include bribery, misuse of state resources and accounting shenanigans. In its post-Soviet incarnation, Cuba has become a state on the take,” the cables say, going on to mention the purchase of jobs for hundreds or thousands of dollars, jobs that later often result in lucrative opportunities for influence peddling.

    The messages from the U.S. Interests section emphasize that the police, as well as the “shipping, tourism, construction and food (sectors) are notorious for generalized theft and corruption.”

    Cuban officials, according to the cables, tolerate this type of “survival” corruption to a certain point, but they can act with overwhelming force and severity when the diversions of cash become significant, and this periodically leads to the firing of government ministers and other top officials.

    In other cables published by WikiLeaks, U.S. diplomats also discuss the state of the Cuban Catholic Church, going so far as to say that it has essentially surrendered to the regime and renounced political activism on the island in exchange for attempting to preserve the space within Cuban society for religious worship.

    “From Cardinal (Jaime) Ortega all the way down to provincial nuns, the Church mostly avoids challenging the GOC,” or government of Cuba, U.S. Interests Section chief Jonathan Farrar said in a cable sent to Washington in 2008.

    “Fear of drawing the ire of the GOC limits church outreach programs to narrow niches, such as caring for mentally challenged children and adults,” the cable said.

    http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=384862&CategoryId=14510

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