The potatoes arrived! No more potatoes! / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on February 6, 2015
Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 4 February 2015 – Early in the morning
Josefina heard on the morning news that Artemisa province had started
the potato harvest. She heard that the “planned economy” target was
almost 8,800 tons of potatoes and that the harvest would run through the
middle of April. Almost intuitively, she looked through the blinds of
her 8th floor apartment from where she could see that at the nearby
farmers market there were two trucks unloading some sacks.
At that moment her daughter Olivia was staging the daily drama of
putting on her primary school uniform and Josefina was faced the dilemma
or whether to go stand in line before taking her daughter to school.
“The potatoes are here!” her neighbor shouted and half the building
leaned over their balconies to confirm it. By twenty minutes to eight
she had already left her daughter, hair uncombed, at the door of the
school, where an aide asked her, “Is it true? Are the potatoes here?”
The line extended around the corner, but her friend who sells plastic
bags outside the market beckoned her to come and stand behind her. Half
an hour later, Josefina had achieved her purpose. She hadn’t eaten a
real potato for six months, and had only rarely had the hard currency
necessary to buy a bag of dehydrated potatoes. The additional advantage
was that 20 pounds of potatoes only cost 20 pesos in national money*,
less than what she would have to spend for a little packet of instant
As she was leaving the market she heard the authoritative voice of the
administrator shout, “No more potatoes!” A few steps away two burly
young men whispered their proposed alternative, “A ten pound bag, only
two fulitas (“little dollars”)**.”
*See this article for a discussion of Cuba’s dual currency system.
**In other words, the black market potatoes cost more than four times
the official market price… but they are available.
Source: The potatoes arrived! No more potatoes! / Reinaldo Escobar |
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