My Mother and the Onions

Onion seller (14ymedio)

Onion seller (14ymedio)

14YMEDIO, Yoani Sanchez, 6 August 2014 – Who do I think about when I write? How does the reader imagine my texts come to me? Who do I want to shake up, move, reach… with my words? Such questions are common among those of us who devote ourselves to publishing our opinions and ideas. It is also a common question among those of us who engage in the informative work of the press. Defining the subject to which we turn our journalistic intentions is key to not falling into absurd generalizations, unintelligible language, or the tones of a training manual.

I do not write for academics or sages. Although I once graduated in Hispanic philology, the Latin declensions and text citations belong to a stage of my life I’ve left in the past. Nor do I think that my words reach people seated in the comfortable armchairs of power, nor specialists nor scholars who look for keys and messages in them. When I sit in front of the keyboard I think about people like my mother, who worked for more than 35 years in the taxi sector. It is to those people, tied to reality and dealing with adversity 24 hours a day, that I direct my words.

At times, when I talk to my mamá, I explain the need for Cuba to open itself up to democracy, to respect human rights and to establish freedom. She listens to me in silence for a while. After some minutes, she changes the conversation and tells me about the eggs that haven’t come, the bureaucrat who mistreated her, or the water leak at the corner of her house. Then, I ask her how much onions cost. My mother has to pay out three days worth of her pension to buy a pound of onions. I no longer have to say anything, she just concludes, “This country has to change.”

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64 thoughts on “My Mother and the Onions

  1. @Omar

    So, your idea of living modestly includes the yacht that Castro owns, and his millions of dollars? Really?

  2. Mrs Matulovic: Be real….look around the World and compare the Power and Influence the Castro’s have on the government of the island plus their standard of living with People in other countries that possess similar position in their society. The Castro’s live modestly by World norms. I encourage you to surf the net and look at Central America or South America rulers. Then look at the inequalities that exist in the Western Democracies. If you are going to criticize economic conditions in Cuba, then criticize the Castro’s for their poor performance in getting more foreign investment in the country. They need 2.5 Billion dollars/year. Next to the blockade and regime change law by the U.S; this is the main driver of poor economic conditions. Even more than the one party system or repression on dissent’s freedom of expression perceptions when measured against the Human Rights Commission rules and by laws for countries that have signed the Act. (Cuba signed it of course).

  3. CARNIVALS IN CUBA BEFORE THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA TOOK OVER! (at 4:00 minutes)
    YOUTUBE: Cuba Before Castro

  4. CARNIVALS IN CUBA BEFORE THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA TOOK OVER! (at 4:00 minutes)
    YOUTUBE: Cuba Before Castrohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwqxFnE1YHw

  5. CARNIVALS IN CUBA BEFORE THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA TOOK OVER! YOUTUBE: CARNAVALES DE LA HABANA 1956 BEFORE CASTRO – Carnavales de la Habana 1956: Carrozas;comparzas;Reina del carnaval y sus damas; publico;palco presidensial.Musica:Congas de carnaval (uno,dos y tres que paso mas chevere…;quitate de la acera mira que te tumbo…conga las “Jardineras”… Se puede ver toda la estructura social y racial de Cuba apreciar los vestidos de las comparzas,todo el pueblo en el mismo escenario blancos;negros;chinos;espanoles;ricos;pobres todos disfrutando de la fiesta sin descriminacion de ninguna clase..

  6. THE PRE-CASTRO CARNIVALS WERE SOMETHING TO BEHOLD! NOW THEY ARE JUST A SHADOW OF WHAT THEY USED TO BE!

    NBC NEWS: Cuba Celebrates Its Carnival On A Tight Budget – by Orlando Matos

    HAVANA, CUBA — Four blocks – a half mile – does not seem big enough for more than two million people to have fun, but this is the space where habaneros are celebrating and seeking a distraction from their daily lives.

    This is the capital’s carnaval, a century-old tradition which has been forced to adjust its scale due to a more modest budget brought about by the economic crisis. It’s not known how much this event will cost the city – these figures are not released – but it’s a very modest celebration.

    Yet judging by the stream of people, the crowds are not paying attention to the carnival’s budget issues. It’s an opportunity to have fun at a price reasonably accessible to a population for whom elaborate entertainment events are usually elusive; they are more available to those with foreign currency.

    “We came to enjoy,” said a couple from one of the stands in front of the passing floats and groups of dancers. “This is what there is,” said a group of young people.

    Away from the stands, a crowd dances and sings along to musical groups taking part in the carnival’s so-called paseo or “walk” that extends to other parts of the city.

    Havana’s carnival is not lavish, but there is variety and color in the different floats’ dresses and costumes and the choreographed pieces are full of rhythm. Most importantly, the infectious conga music makes everyone’s hips move.

    Cuba’s carnavales are the most popular parties in the entire country, and Havana’s carnival can stand up to the one in Santiago de Cuba, whose fame transcends beyond the island’s borders.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/cuba-celebrates-its-carnival-tight-budget-n178776

  7. IT’S GREAT TO BE A RICH COMMUNIST/SOCIALIST! INS’T IT!
    BLOOMBERG: Chavez Friends Get Rich After His Death as Venezuela Slides Into Chaos – By Michael Smith and Anatoly Kurmanaev

    Chavez’s socialism, he says, has made him personally rich. “I’m a socialist, but I love having cash in my hands,” he says, shaking a fist holding an imaginary wad of money. “Socialism is wealth.”

    Biancucci, 55, who grew up poor, says he won contracts to supply Venezuela with livestock thanks to friendships with military officers now in the government. His voice rises with emotion as he says he’s been a devotee of Chavez since military college, when the late leader was his history professor.

    In 1992, Biancucci joined 140 other officers in staging a coup attempt led by Chavez. Although the coup failed, Chavez was elected president six years later — and Biancucci’s business thrived. Socialism, Biancucci says, is the solution to poverty, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its September issue.
    In 1992, Biancucci joined 140 other officers in staging a coup attempt led by Chavez. Although the coup failed, Chavez was elected president six years later — and Biancucci’s business thrived. Socialism, Biancucci says, is the solution to poverty, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its September issue.

    Biancucci is one of a coterie of Venezuelans close to Chavez who acquired wealth during his 14 years in power and under his successor, former bus driver and union leader Nicolas Maduro. The companies of these businessmen have received billions of dollars from the government since Chavez took office in 1999, for food distribution, banking and other activities, according to government records.
    Mansions, Jets

    A close look at who these people are and how they made their fortunes provides insights into how Venezuela, a country blessed with the world’s largest oil reserves, has descended into disorder and paralysis — even as politically connected people have become wealthy.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-12/venezuela-sees-chavez-friends-rich-after-his-death-amid-poverty.html

  8. How about the inequality between Fidel and Raul’s standard of living versus the rest of the serfs on the island of Cuba? You don’t seem too concerned about that.

  9. the large inequality between the Cuban standard of living and that of the United States is one of the barriers to normal relations and normal international travel between the two countries. I am sure if someday travel between Cuba and the U.S. returns to normal, the cost will be prohibited for most Cubans. The U.S. will artificially increase the price of travel to avoid a large tide of immigrants from Cuba and then blame it on the Socialist Democratic Republic of Cuba for not being able to increase the standard of livings of Cubans

  10. Hank,

    Joachim Fest’s family survived by keeping their opinions mostly to themselves. That’s how most Cubans survived too. It’s about the only way to survive such dictatorships.

    It was courageous of his father to refuse the Hitler oath. Not many people in Castro’s Cuba or Nazi Germany took such risks.

    These totalitarian madmen are a real pain. At least Batista, who was just a normal dictator, didn’t make you march in a parade and hold up his poster for 7 hours listening to him talk to himself.

  11. Incredible, over 20,000 Cubans have tried to enter the USA via US border crossings, in just the first 6 months of 2014.

    Sadly, and shamefully for the US government, in the first half of 2014 over 1,500 Cubans were captured at sea by the US coast guard and returned to their slave owner.

    http://cafefuerte.com/cuba/16796-14-mil-cubanos-cruzaron-la-frontera-mexicana-rumbo-a-eeuu-hasta-julio/

    It would be interesting to see what the numbers would be if Castro ever permitted free travel.

    Of course, that’s not about to happen unless all other countries agree to return Cuban slaves.

  12. POOR LITTLE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA! THEIR “OIL DREAMS” SEEM TO HAVE VANISHED LIKE FREEDOMS DID IN CUBA SINCE 1959!! NOW IS THE TIMES TO TWIST THE DIPLOMATIC SCREW TO GET ALAN GROSS BACK AND AT LEAST FREE AND/OR AFFORDABLE INTERNET FOR ALL THE CUBAN CITIZENS IN THE ISLAND!

    BALTIMORE SUN: After offshore oil failure, Cuba shifts energy focus – By Marc Frank

    Cuba has shifted its focus away from offshore oil, concentrating on renewable energy and improving output from onshore wells due to a lack of interest by foreign companies for further deepwater exploration, sources close to the industry say. With so much oil readily available around the world, oil companies including those from allies China and Russia see little incentive in drilling off the Caribbean island, delaying the Cuban dream of oil wealth that could inject vigor into its socialist revolution.

    With the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba further complicating drilling plans, the country is seeking investors in renewable energy such as biomass and wind while attempting to increase output from existing onshore and shallow water wells.

    Russia’s state-run Rosneft and the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) separately agreed last month to help Communist-run Cuba extract more oil along the traditional northwest heavy oil belt, but did not sign on to deepwater exploration.

    The northwest heavy oil belt is a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of the northern coast from Havana to Villa Clara and reaching up to 3 miles (5 km) offshore. It produces poor quality oil that meets 40 percent of the country’s needs.

    Rosneft and CNPC will also support the horizontal drilling of new wells from shore and join Canadian firm Sherritt International (S.TO) and another Russian state-run oil company, Zarubezhneft, which are already carrying out similar work.

    Cuba had hoped Russia and China, whose presidents visited in July, would explore deepwater offshore fields that it says may hold 20 billion barrels of oil and end its dependence on socialist ally Venezuela.

    “The Cubans have stopped talking about offshore oil exploration in the state-run media and in private appear more interested in new recovery methods for existing wells, biogas projects and windmill farms,” a European diplomat said.

    Three deepwater wells drilled in 2012 by Spanish, Norwegian, Indian, Malaysian, Russian and Venezuelan firms came up dry. All but the Norwegian state firm Statoil ASA and Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA have pulled out, and those companies are inactive. Future drilling has been postponed for the foreseeable future.

    A BIG GAMBLE

    Difficult geology from hard rock encountered while sinking the wells, alternative prospects elsewhere and U.S. sanctions that require oil rigs to carry less than 10 percent U.S. technology are discouraging further drilling, according to Western diplomats.

    “Exploration is not a one-shot deal, but in Cuba due to many factors it is. Drilling is like playing once at a roulette wheel with $100 million chips,” said a diplomat whose country was involved in exploration.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/sns-rt-us-cuba-energy-20140811,0,1554512.story

  13. THE CASTRO OLIGARCHY MAFIA EXTORTING MONEY OUT OF TOURISTS! GO TO CUBA AT YOUR OWN RISK! WITH THE CASTROFASCISTS YOU HAVE TO PLAY HARDBALL! IS THE ONLY THING THEY UNDERSTAND!

    THE BOLTON CANADIAN NEWS: Cuban hotel agrees to refund Farnworth couple after charging them £4,000 for broken TV – by Neil Robertson

    A FORMER soldier who was charged £4,000 to replace a television which was broken while he was on his honeymoon has been told the hotel he was staying at has agreed to refund the full amount.

    Wesley Dyson, who was staying at the Cuban resort of Holguin at the Paradisus del Rio D’Oro with his wife Heather, has been informed by travel company Thomas Cook that the hotel will pay him back the £4,000.

    The Farnworth couple were told on the last day of their trip that a damaged TV had been found in their hotel room.

    Mr Dyson was told he would have to pay 10 times the value of the TV – 6,600 Cuban pesos or about £4,000 – or he would not be given back his passport.

    Mr Dyson told The Bolton News that, after landing back in the UK, he put in a travel insurance claim with Thomas Cook, on the grounds that the damage caused was accidental.

    The hotel has since agreed to give Mr Dyson his money back.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/11401170.Cuban_hotel_agrees_to_refund_Farnworth_couple_after_charging_them___4_000_for_broken_TV/?ref=var_0

  14. Here’s an excerpt from the article listed in the previous post:

    “He has, after all, spent decades cultivating his public image as an unassuming, hard-working man of the people.
    Indeed, the Communist Party of Cuba styles Senor Castro as a cigar-chomping but otherwise modest military servant, devoted to advancing the public good in a country where the majority of the 11 million residents live in abject poverty.
    Propaganda is often far removed from reality, though. And as his yacht, private island and domestic staff demonstrate, this lifelong critic of the supposed excesses of capitalism does not always practise what he preaches.
    In fact, Castro’s lifestyle turns out to be jaw-droppingly decadent — a revelation set out in eye-popping detail by his former bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sanchez.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2637927/Castro-commie-hypocrite-lives-like-billionaire-Hes-posed-man-people-But-new-book-reveals-Cubas-leader-led-life-pampered-hedonism-fortune-big-Queens.html#ixzz3A3oYb2Qt
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