First you have to touch the heavy knocker that resonates inside the house. On the other side, someone opens a small old grill-shaped gazebo. Only after a few seconds does the bolt slide back and an old woman appears. The keys to access housing, in the city of Sancti Spíritus, include mentioning a well-known name.
“I come from Domingo, Carmita’s uncle, the one with jimaguas,” a young man who arrives by bicycle is heard saying. The door opens wide and the client enters a space with half-closed windows, an old sofa and some wooden boxes dirty with dirt that have bags of black beans, malangas, yuccas, tomatoes and some avocados, the last of the season. .
“Is there no pork?” asks the young man, wondering if he has reached the “well-stocked little market” that his contact had told him about. He is then led to a freezer where the woman gets well-differentiated packages. “Here there are ribs at 230 pesos a pound, the clean loin comes out at 280 and the steak is at 300,” the woman details. “We also have a liver and a heart.”
“Here there are ribs at 230 pesos a pound, the clean loin comes out at 280 and the steak is at 300”
The man buys a piece of boneless pork leg, some chili peppers and a bag of cumin. While he pays, a boy passes by playing on an old metal velocipede and a voice is heard from inside the house asking him not to disturb the visitor. Twenty minutes after entering, he is back on the street with his bicycle and a backpack where he keeps everything he has bought, safe from prying eyes.
The young man has been lucky, because the other option would be to leave the city to go and buy directly from the producers’ farms. “It’s cheaper, but when you take into account the fuel you spend or the time it takes, it’s not worth it,” acknowledges the employee of a small cafeteria where they sell bread with ham, natural juices and fruit smoothies.
“Yesterday I crossed the entire city looking for some malangas and some corn for some chickens that I have at home,” he tells 14ymedio. “Only in the particular point of Jesús María was I able to find some ears of corn, because the vendors now leave the food to be negotiated in their own homes, because they do not want to accept the price that the inspectors set.”
“Until a few days ago in this city you could find beans, it’s true that at 130 pesos a pound, but now they don’t even appear with money, because they have been collected,” laments this mother of two small children who attributes the increase in shortages to ” the measures that have been taken to try to curb high prices.
“We have gone from that self-employment that had its yuccas and pork on a platform to the ‘own door’ that you have to go to the seller’s house”
“We have gone from self-employment that had its yuccas and pork on a platform to ‘own door’ where you have to go to the vendor’s house or wait for them to knock on the door with an offer,” the woman complains. “I’m lucky, because I have a contact who sells onions.” She and she passed the information on to a neighbor: “Say you’re on my behalf.”
“They want to force us to lower prices with fines,” complains a merchant who, until a few weeks ago, managed a platform in La Plaza, the city’s main agricultural market. “I’m not going back at the moment, until everything calms down, and if it doesn’t calm down, it’s worse for them because I have more clients than products. Every time I take something out of my house they blow it away.”
In La Plaza, this Tuesday the panorama was more reminiscent of an empty local in liquidation than the hustle and bustle that characterized the place a few years ago. “Not even people come to buy anymore, why else are they going to leave empty-handed because they know that almost no one is selling here anymore,” explains a neighbor on the outskirts who until recently earned some money selling bags of nylon to customers.
Around La Plaza, some mansions show their former splendor with large gates, gabled roofs with reddish tiles and lathed railings with flowery motifs. In some of them beats the heart of the market that was once in the public eye.
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