Are Private Small Business Owners the Scapegoats? / Gladys Linares
Posted on November 25, 2013
LA HABANA, Cuba, November, www.cubanet.org – To us, the most interesting
part of the National Television News is the weather report. “There is no
use in watching the news,” says Julio, an octogenarian neighbor, “just
to hear that the whole world is screwed up and in Cuba everything is
going very well”.
After a speech on July 7th, 2013 by General Raul Castro Ruz, first
secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and
president of the Councils of the State and Ministers, a speech in which
he criticized the Cuban people’s loss of values and the chaotic
situation of the country, the news started transmitting on Tuesdays a
series of reports titled “Cuba Says”.
The one aired this week has given rise to a series of commentaries among
the people, for example, that the large amount of inspectors imposing
high penalty fees and suspending licences is part of an arranged
operation, without doubt created against the private small business
owners, because in the State’s good service centers everything seemed to
be too organized: employees wearing uniforms, talking about hygiene
norms… for many it was obviously staged.
A neighbor was commenting: “Before giving the private owners the
licenses to process and sell food products, they were inspected by
Public Health, because that is what happened to my son before he could
open the restaurant. How is it possible that right after they get closed
because they don’t meet the requirements?”
“They are clipping their wings, it’s not like they are becoming rich
with their businesses”, another man says, “They are not fooling anybody:
they gave out all those licenses to mask the massive layoffs in 2010,
but as always, that’s a way to keep them in check and controlled”.
The lack of hygiene in the state centers where they process and sell
food products is nothing new, unfortunately. Just to give an example,
the bread that people eat daily, is left on a counter for hours, full of
flies. The same employee handles the bread, money, and writes down on
the food booklet with his bare hands. When the bread is covered we all
know it is because an inspection is due. They deliver the bread to the
so-called Paneras — where the bread is sold but not baked — transporting
the bread in carts pulled by horses, a cart or a bicycle cart, and it is
stored in open boxes, made out of plastic, wood or woven baskets.
People prefer the service of privately-owned cafeterias because of the
quality of the products, the speed and quality of customer service that
most of them offer, while in state-owned cafeterias the menus are very
limited, and many times flies are part of the menu. Even the more
expensive establishments, like some of the pastry chain Sylvain, have
missing glass on the counters and flies have free access to the pastry.
The cockroaches find a home in hospitals, urgent care facilities, and
doctor offices, but also in food processing establishments: lunchroom,
bakeries, and restaurants of selling in the national currency, the Cuban
peso, or in CUCs, the Cuban Convertible Peso. This is the case of Plaza
Carlos III or the cafeteria in La Rampa Movie Theater.
In the “bodegas”, where food rations distributed by the State are sold,
rats are also found camping, that is why some employees have a cats in
these establishments, hidden from the view of the customers. A neighbor
was telling me how she didn’t dare to buy the rice last month, because
she saw how the seller killed a mouse inside a rice bag and he didn’t
even bother to throw it away.
The lack of concern on the part of the Government about the lack of
hygiene is detrimental to the health of the population. The water
pollution, the bugs in the trash that is not picked up for days, and
other ills, are some of the consequences. People need their problems to
be addressed with a real solution, instead of drawing attention away
from them and using the small business owners as scapegoats.
Cubanet, 21 November 2013
Source: “Are Private Small Business Owners the Scapegoats? / Gladys
Linares | Translating Cuba” –