Alchemy and Lies

“The Alchemist” – Oil by Mattheus van Hellemont

We live in a society of alchemists. They don’t turn iron into gold, but they are skilled at replacing ingredients and adulterating almost everything. Their goal is to cheat every client or to steal from the State itself. To achieve this they use even Mendeleev’s periodic table in search of elements that can be replaced by cheaper ones.

Some of these ingenious formulas deserve an Anti-Nobel in Chemistry, especially for their negative effects on human health. Such is the case with a lengthy recipe for tomato sauce that includes beets, boiled sweet potatoes, spices, cornstarch and red hair dye. When a curious observer asks, “And the tomato?” the inventors respond, almost scolding, “No, there’s no tomato.”

So the streets are full of glue sticks that when you press them only contain air. Bottles of shampoo mixed with clothes-washing detergent. Soap with plastic shavings added by the employees at the factory who resell the raw materials. Bottles of rum that come off clandestine production lines with hospital alcohol and burned sugar to simulate aging. Bottled water, refilled from some tap and offered for sale on the shelves of many markets.

Needless to say the imitations of Cohiba cigars and other brands are sold to naive tourists as if they were authentic. Nothing is what it seems. A good part of the population accepts these deceptions and feels a certain solidarity with the cheaters. “People have to live somehow,” they justify, with even the most injured treating it like a joke.

Within the long list of what is falsified, rationed bread occupies first place. This is the most adulterated product in our basic food basket, its formula lost decades ago due to standardization and the diversion of resources.

In the bakeries, the “alchemists” have reached the heights of true genius. They add huge amounts of yeast to the dough to make it rise so much that we get “air bread,” which leaves us with sore gums and unfilled stomachs. And don’t even mention the substitution of baking flour for other uses in the making of pasta and noodles. With this process we end up with something in our mouths that is hard, dry and flavorless. Best not to look before you eat, because the appearance is worse than the taste.

If Paracelsus were resurrected, he would have to come to this Island. He would learn so much!

28 thoughts on “Alchemy and Lies

  1. Cuba is an excellent example of how a very successful nation in the western hemisphere was destroyed by Castroism in the 20th century. There are so few positive things to say about communist dictatorships like Cuba, that leftists everywhere have no choice but to point out flaws in other countries to keep some of their self-respect.

  2. AWWW! Marabu & Nick!! THAT HOW I LIKE YOUR RESPONSES, SHORT AND USELESS! JE JE JE!

    THE CASTROFASCISTS HIDING THE REALITY OF MURDERS AND OTHER CRIMES IN THEIR ISLAND PRISON OF CUBA! THEY NEED THEM $$$$$$ SO THEY KEEP THINGS LIKE THIS OUT OF THE CUBAN “PRESS” AND THE EYES OF THE WORLD! SHAME ON THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS PRESENT THERE FOR NOT COVERING THIS!

    MIAMI HERALD: Mother says son died mysteriously in Havana – by Juan Tamayo
    A Canadian-born U.S. citizen died under mysterious circumstances on the roof of Cuba’s famed Hotel Nacional, his mother alleged in Miami Friday.

    “He went out the night of Nov. 21, saying he wanted to meet up with his cousin. The next morning, his bed was empty. I called the cousin and he said he had not seen my son,” Onelia Ross told el Nuevo Herald.

    The body of Brandon Ross, 31, was cremated immediately by the Cuban government, preventing an independent autopsy, even though Canadian officials offered to help arrange its return home, Ross said.
    The mother said she and Brandon flew to Cuba on Nov. 17 for a vacation, his first-ever trip to the island, and rented rooms in a private home in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana not far from the Hotel Nacional.

    On Nov. 21 mother and son walked around the seaside boulevard known as the Malecón, stopped at the hotel for a drink and then returned to the rooms, Ross said. Brandon then went out and she saw him again only when was asked to identify his body the next day.
    When she identified the body, she told the TV station, “my son’s face was like he had been punched.” His left eye was swollen and almost black, his right eye was purple, she added. “His jaw was broken, and one of his teeth was broken.”

    Cuban authorities told her that Ross was on the roof of the hotel when he slipped and fell about 20 feet, the mother told Telemundo51. They also said that he survived about 12 hours before dying from his injuries, the mother said.

    Her son had mentioned that he wanted to take some photos from the roof of the hotel, she told the TV station. There was no explanation of how he could have reached the roof, which is not known to be open to the public.

    Authorities also told her that her son died during the night but did not give her a copy of his autopsy, Ross added. The last photos on his camera — which she said showed no sign of any fall — were apparently taken as the sun rose.

    Friends of the mother have told reporters that she believes Brandon was beaten to death but has not explained how she reached that suspicion.

    “In that miserable country there are no laws,” she told the station.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/11/3864551/mother-says-son-died-mysteriously.html

  3. ALAN GROSS MUST BE SET FREE! HE IS NOT A SPY AND WENT TO CUBA SO AS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO THE CUBAN JEWISH PEOPLE! IS THAT “REGIME CHANGE”?? INFORMATION IS A RIGHT, NOT A BOMB NOR A BAZOOKA!

    US DEPARTMENT OF STATE: Migration Talks With Cuba
    Press Statement – Jen Psaki – Department Spokesperson
    Washington, DC – January 10, 2014
    The U.S. delegation reiterated its call for the release of Alan Gross, who was arrested by Cuban authorities on December 3, 2009, and later sentenced to 15 years in prison for facilitating uncensored internet contact between a small, religious community on the island and the rest of the world.
    On Thursday, January 9, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana to discuss the implementation of the 1994 and 1995 U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords. This marks the second time since January 2011 that these talks have been held. Under the Accords, both governments pledge to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States. The agenda for the talks reflected longstanding U.S. priorities on Cuba-U.S. migration issues, as well as cooperation on aviation security, search and rescue, and consular document fraud. The U.S. delegation highlighted areas of successful cooperation in migration, exchanging information on the interdiction of undocumented migrants, and clarifying aspects of Cuba’s recent changes in migration policy.
    The U.S. delegation was led by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Alex Lee and the Cuban delegation was led by the Foreign Ministry’s Director General for U.S. Affairs, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro.
    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/01/219530.htm

  4. Getting back to the food and water corruption.

    I personally know Canadian and US victims of serious food poisoning and tropical diseases in Cuba.

    One friend is still being treated. This person brought back a tropical bug which was only diagnosed correctly in Canada, where the disease is practically non-existent.

    The Cuban doctors, at the best hospital for tourists, could not diagnose the disease, despite it being a Cuban disease.

    These cases are seldom considered newsworthy by the international press, although they would have made the news if they happened in other countries.

    Thank you Yoani, for asking questions and reporting the truth.

  5. The corruption described by Yoani is true of every sector of Cuban society.

    A most dangerous thing is Cuba’s phony statistics and propaganda, such as the “low-crime” shtick, repeated by Cuban tourism web sites, which puts naive tourists at risk.

    Unlike in Mexico, if you are the victim of a violent crime in Cuba, Castro’s police just try to cover it up.

    At least most of the time. And they expel you from Cuba if you are the victim’s family and ask questions.

    http://cubanexilequarter.blogspot.ca/2014/01/tourists-and-travel-to-cuba-what-they.html

    The latest victim is a tourist named Brandon Ross.

    Cuban police made up a story, cremated the body without the the family’s permission, did not provide any autopsy report…

    Case closed.

    Read the article. In previous cases police just hid the victim’s body and told the family the victim went missing.

  6. ONE MORE VICTORY OF THE REVOLUTION

    A drop of coffee production reported below is in fact another victory of the Revolution.
    Cuban economic profile moves from agriculture oriented to services oriented exports.

    Those, who were picking up coffee beans in the past are now performing eye surgeries or are swinging their hips in the hotel shows.

    Good for Cuba!

    But the enemy still dreams of that enslaved island it was once their backyard.

  7. Cuba coffee harvest in 1956 reached 60,000 tons and was capable of exporting 20,000 tons valued at $20 million. In 2012, coffee production reached only 4.0 tons. Coffee production has suffered the huge reduction of 93.3% in comparison with 1956, and imports of coffee amounted to $50 million. Coffee production per capita in 1956 with a population of 6.3 million was 21 pounds, and in 2012 with a population of 11.2 million of only 0.79 lbs. Another of the great catastrophes of the Castroit regime.

  8. Cuban Coffee Production Falls 90%
    http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=355625&CategoryId=14510

    EFE, December 13, 2013

    HAVANA – Coffee production has fallen by 90 percent in recent years in Cuba, where the government of Gen. Raul Castro is currently spending some $50 million to import the bean to meet domestic demand, the government-run weekly Trabajadores reported Monday.

    Cuba once produced 60,000 tons of coffee per year, but “now it scarcely reaches 10 percent of that quantity,” Trabajadores said, citing figures compiled by the Agriculture Ministry.

    “Today, the country needs to import 19,000 tons of coffee valued at approximately $50 million to ensure the consumption of this product, which traditionally constituted an important source of foreign currency income,” the weekly said.

  9. When Humby’s retired he’s gonna spend his whole time addressing the world…
    just like he does now…
    Can’t wait………………………..

  10. @Humberto asks: “Fidel Castro, HAS MANY HOURS FOR DIGNITARIES, JOURNALISTS, THE POPE AND EVEN TO ATTEND AN ART EXHIBIT BUT HAS NO TIME TO ADDRESS THE CUBAN PEOPLE LIVE EVEN FOR A FEW MINUTES! ”

    The cuban people are addresed by their President and the cabinet ministers, not by retirees.

  11. HMMM!! HOW VERY INTERESTING! THE CASTROFASCIST #1 Fidel Castro, HAS MANY HOURS FOR DIGNITARIES, JOURNALISTS, THE POPE AND EVEN TO ATTEND AN ART EXHIBIT BUT HAS NO TIME TO ADDRESS THE CUBAN PEOPLE LIVE EVEN FOR A FEW MINUTES! NEVER SINCE HIS DIVERTICULITIS ATTACK ON July 31, 2006 !! WHY IS THAT? IS THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA AFRAID THAT IT WOULD ALLOW SCRUTINY OF “THE PERSON” POSING AS FIDEL CASTRO? THAT’S WHAT I THINK! AND OLD MAN WITH A BEARD LOOKS LIKE THE NEXT ONE! ONLY BY A LIVE ANALYSIS YOU COULD POINT OUT A BODY DOUBLE! NO MATTER, SOONER OR LATER WE WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THESE LAME JOURNALISTS WILL LOOK BACK AND REALIZE THEY HAVE BEEN DUPED! WHY DONT THEY ASK THIS PARTICULAR HARD QUESTION? THEY WANT TO BE THERE WHEN THE “OFFICIAL’ DEATH OF FIDEL CASTRO IS ANNOUNCED! DUH!

    HERE IS A TYPICAL FASCIST LIE FROM THE CASTRO FAMILY & THEIR GOONS! TRYING TO ERASE THE EVIDENCE OF THIS MURDER SO IT DOES NOT AFFECT THEIR TOURIST DOLLARS! NOTHING OF THIS ON THE “CUBAN PRESS” OF COURSE!

    CAPITOL HILL CUBANS BLOG: Mysterious Death of Young American in Cuba
    Last November, a young American traveler, Brandon Ross, died under mysterious circumstances during a visit to Cuba.

    Ross, 31 years-old, visited the island with his Cuban-American mother, Onelia.

    On the morning of November 22nd, Ross went out to take pictures in the area surrounding Havana’s Hotel Nacional.

    According to Telemundo 51, he was later found dead on the rooftop of the Hotel Nacional.

    According to his mother, Ross’ face was all bruised and his jaw broken, as if he had been beaten up.

    The official report by the Cuban authorities state Ross died accidentally the night before.

    Yet, his camera was full of pictures from that morning.

    The Cuban authorities quickly cremated Ross’ body and his mother has not received a copy of his autopsy.

    This secretive process is typical operating procedure of the Castro regime when it seeks to hide information or cover-up the criminal activity of its cohorts.

    Note it has taken nearly two months for this tragedy to come to light.
    http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/2014/01/mysterious-death-of-young-american-in.html?m=1

  12. Nick Sez:
    C’mon Simba…
    Lighten up.
    Where’s yer sense of humour???
    Shakespeare had one…
    ‘Much ado About Nothing’ was a comedy if I remember rightly???

  13. Simba Sez: I believe that Shakespeare wrote “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1623. That, and your contribution to this blog, each have absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand, and once more you are trying to lead the readers astray. You seem to possibly possess nearly all the qualities of a charlatan. Yes, Yoani, I understand what you are saying, and I have little doubt of the veracity of your words.

  14. Simba,

    That living corpse looks like it is consuming too much of Cuba’s scarce food production.

  15. Actually, the term for making money off other people by any means possible is called CORRUPTION, and indeed, Cuba is the champ of them all.

    At least when it comes to food production.

    Corruption existed thousands of years before Adam Smith, and is alive and well in Castro’s Cuba, the only country this side of North Korea where most people have never tested a real slice of bread.

    Corruption has nothing to do with capitalism, which works well with no corruption at all.

    I know many honest businessman, except in Cuba.

    When a dictator forces his subjects to lie and steal to survive, that’s what happens.

  16. Marabu,

    According to Nick, Cuba is the most CAPITALIST country in the world.

    Here’s Nick’s definition:

    “There is a term for someone trying to make some money off other people by whatever means possible….CAPITALISM”

    This is what every business in Cuba does, just as Yoani describes.

    But wait a minute, Nick is always attacking capitalism while defending Castro.

    The strange workings of the human mind.

  17. The Human Toll of Raul Castro´s Rule: 7/31/2006-12/15/2013
    http://cubaarchive.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=157&Itemid=95

    As 2013 comes to an end, Raúl Castro remains Cuba’s supreme leader after six and a half years —considerably longer than the average president’s term in most countries. Following is a relation of deaths and disappearances attributed to the Cuban state under Raúl Castro from 7/31/2006 to 12/15/2013. 42 additional cases (for a total of 208 documented cases) are reported for which the Cuban state is considered directly or indirectly responsible. Many more cases are feared, particularly in prison and in exit attempts by sea, of which reports are very hard to come by.

    Documented Cases: 166*
    Forced Disappearances: 2
    Extrajudicial / Deliberate Killings: 15
    Suspected Extrajudicial / Deliberate Killings: 10
    By Hunger Strike in Prison: 4
    Denial of Medical Care / Medical Condition in Prison: 86
    Suicide or Alleged Suicide in Prison or Provoked: 46
    Accidents / Negligence in Prison: 3

    See here profiles of selected cases and a list in the full Report
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/106578108/The%20Human%20Toll%20of%20Raul%20Castro%C2%B4s%20Rule.pdf

  18. @Nick

    I certainly agree with you that a ripp-off is a global issue, not limited to Cuba.

    But we can expect a little bit more from Cuba, beacause it is a country which said 90% good bye to capitalism. People are ripped off in the other 10% of the island, which is perhaps not really capitalist, but, yes, private. Private in Cuba = RIPP OFF. All Yoanis examples from this post are about private individuals.

    I look with great suspicion at all these liberties granted in the recent years by the new President.

    Why are the thieves walking free there? As soon as an internationalist solidarity project will aim to build a new prison in Cuba I will contribute a modest $1000 for the irons bars.

  19. Nick completely misses the point once again.

    And I mean he really misses the point, a point that is really, really difficult to miss.

    In Cuba, you can ONLY get ripped off, at least way more than anywhere else. The consumer has NO choice.

    CASTRO, or if you prefer to call him the STATE, owns all these corrupt bakeries that Yoani is talking about. He won`t allow imports of quality food either.

    Yes, it is a type of capitalism, called monopoly capitalism, or state capitalism, or state socialism, or simply SOCIALISM. Take your pick, but it is Cuba under Castro.

    A capitalism where one family owns all the business and all the labor and provides consumers with no choice but to buy counterfeit goods and dangerously tampered food.

    In MEXICO CITY and NEW YORK and BOGOTA and LIMA and SANTO DOMINGO, I have a CHOICE. The shampoo I buy there is really shampoo, and the spring water I buy is really spring water.

    All cities, except in Cuba, offer a multitude of wonderful restaurants and grocery stores that few Cubans can even imagine are possible.

    The worst place I’ve eaten at in New York is better than Cuba’s best.

    How can anyone possibly be so dense as to not understand this????? Especially a poster who claims to have lived in Cuba.

    Not to understand how Castro’s STATE CAPITALISM, i.e. SOCIALISM, leads to such universal corruption, desperation and lack of food.

    Nick, even my communist friends understand this. All admit that the SYSTEM in the USA and Canada is preferable to the one in Cuba.

    The amount of hatred you must be carrying to distort reality to such an extent must be awful.

    You are capable of equating Auschwitz with an American Diet Clinic.

  20. I had a friend who went on an Americas trip.
    Trip of a lifetime….
    From Patagonia to Nova Scotia.
    In Havana he bought some Cigars off a guy who swore they were real and guess what???
    They were trash. He was ripped off.
    You’d think he would manage to get some good cigars in Havana of all places.
    Later on during his trip he bought some cocaine in NYC.
    It was bicarbonate of soda at 50 bucks a gram. He was ripped off.
    With all that bloodshed in Mexico, all those military operations, all that blood, sweat, and tears to ensure NYC gets its coke supply through…
    You’d think my buddy would be able to put some top grade coke up his nose in NYC of all places.

    Yoani is absolutely correct to state that one can be ripped off in Cuba.
    Especially in the City of Havana.
    What she doesn’t mention, however, is that one can be ripped off anywhere in the world.

  21. There is a term for someone trying to make some money off other people by whatever means possible….
    I can’t remember what the word is…
    It’s on the tip of my tongue…
    It will come back to me in a moment…
    Oh yeah..
    That’s it:

    CAPITALISM

  22. Why on Earth would anyone want to go to Cuba?

    The food is chemically adulterated and the water is contaminated with human feces bearing the cholera bacterium. The main symptoms of cholera are watery diarrhea and vomiting. What a disaster.

    No thanks.

  23. Yes, I have seen this happen with my Cuban friends. Most just want to get enough to eat each day.

  24. Read this: “In the bakeries, the “alchemists” have reached the heights of true genius. They add huge amounts of yeast to the dough to make it rise so much that we get “air bread,””

    A sad picture of daily life in Cuba. While I don’t care about $260 000 Peugeots (the price is OK if buyer will come), I do care about the “air bread”.

    I want to ask the government of Cuba: is it worth it?

    Cuban population pays a high price for the liberal policies of it’s government. Thieves and cheaters, as those described here by Yoani, are running free just because the goverment want to assume a liberal face. I don’t remember when the death penalty was last carried out in Cuba.

    Mr Dias-Canel, want to be a liberal? Stay on the “air bread” diet. Yes, you.

  25. I should mention, as a warning, that I have friends working in the best hotels in Cuba, and they all tamper with the products.

    They water down the fresh juice with tap water, or offer you weeks’ old juice when you ask for fresh juice.

    I won’t even get into what they do to the solid food.

    If you tip them extra, then they start bringing the real stuff from the chef’s private collection, most of which goes out the back door every night for private consumption or to be sold on the black market.

    They can’t give you real juice because they have to pay the kitchen staff for fresh fruit.

    They don’t really have a choice about anything.

    It is the politics and economics of Castro’s black market, and if they try to be honest, they’ll lose their great hotel job (compared to anything else) and end up on the street sooner than they can shout Down with Castro.

  26. Castro has his own personal farms, workers and chefs, so it’s a bit different on his dining table.

    Yoani paints another very honest and accurate picture of Cuba.

    If there is one way that Cuba really is the worst place to live in the world (save North Korea perhaps?), it is the type of corruption that Yoani describes in the article above.

    As even Marxist friends have told me, the food in Cuba is by far the worst they have encountered anywhere.

    I have personally experienced everything other posters have written about here.

    I have eaten the extra-priced “whole wheat” bread, difficult as it is to find, that is simply white bread with a bit of coloring added.

    The first time a Cuban friend tasted anything “whole wheat” or whole anything, was when he escaped from Cuba.

    The adulteration is not only disgusting for anyone with working taste buds, it is downright dangerous.

    I really don’t like drinking tap water, especially cholera-infested tap water mixed with industrial chemicals, when drinking “bottled water” or “fresh juice”.

    Whenever I have confronted workers with clearly tampered products, they just shrugged their shoulders. They never offer you your money back either.

    Tourists beware.

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