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March 14, 2023
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We don’t want dreams, we just want bread

Panadería de Egido, La Habana, Cuba

Havana Cuba. – Downcast, tired, sad faces; people who have been waiting for hours to bring home the bread they are allowed to buy. Sweaty bodies and possibly more than one hungry, because otherwise they wouldn’t wait for hours in a line, lined up like prisoners of war. Glued to the wall, obedient, but actually trying to save themselves from the unbearable sun and, at the same time, perhaps exposing themselves to the deadly collapse of a balcony of the adjoining building, in ruins.

In a city like Havana, where buildings, cars, the myth of public health and even the economy is falling apart, one is at the risk of dying tragically at any moment and people, at least apparently, are carried away by chance, or rather by resignation. But it is difficult to resign oneself to hunger and, to satisfy it, the trained beasts do what they have to do, even show docile to the “system”, and perhaps even convinced that, by feigning obedience, they are not an essential part of it.

But above them, from the line of sad, obedient people, hang sarcasm and teasing in the form of a poster with a phrase from Fidel Castro: “We are going in favor of higher and unimaginable dreams”, and on the other side, a second equally mocking poster that has little to do with the only type of bread that is advertised on the board or with the scarcity that we Cubans know for more than half a century.

Fidel and Raúl Castro to one side; the promise of bread in the other (Photo by the author)

Two gigantic posters loaded with promises at the top of the façade and a small, empty red tablet attesting to the deception, the scam: one thing is what is announced and promised, and another very different is what is received after queuing for hours.

Anyone who, passing through Cuba, does not know our hard truth, will not understand the mockery that, in contrast to the environment, contains the phrase and will think that those real men and women are waiting to buy some sweets that ordinary Cubans under 60 only know from photos and old stories.

Perhaps even the designer should have downloaded the images of the poster from the internet, including those of the wheat field, to make up the advertisement for that bakery on Egido street where bread and sweets that were never sold are evoked and where a phrase dares to speak of dreams to those who only know of insomnia, even when some lady, as I have seen in a recently published photo, in front of the same bakery, carries a cot to go not for a dream, nor for a nap, but just for her “unimaginable” bread for which he has defended his position in the queue all morning.

We don't want dreams, we just want bread
A woman carried a cot up to her tail (Screenshot/CubaNet)

Two unreal posters, more deceitful than fanciful, that when hanging over our heads of real people turn the whole image into a “spontaneous meme” of our crude and absurd reality, without anyone in particular making an effort to manipulate and montage it. It could even be said that in that piece of street, in that bakery on Egido street, the “system” is synthesized, and interpreting each of its elements by their contrasts, reveals to us the essence of a regime whose discourse barely seeks to disguise reality.

At the head of that “bread queue” are two women sitting, “controlling” the “regulated sale”, making sure that no one who is not duly registered on the list can buy that day (unless, perhaps, someone pay for the “privilege” of bypassing the “system”, after all the “systems”, and this one in particular, were made so that the simple fact of violating it, of bribing us to feel outside of it, is a kind of ” privilege” but, at the same time, the best way to be “well” installed within it, ensuring that no one knocks it down in order to continue our illusion that we are not prisoners of it).

“We are going in favor of much higher and unimaginable dreams,” reads the sign of a bakery on Egido street, in the Havana neighborhood of San Isidroand precisely by being there, where the dreams of some young people were crushed by beatings and imprisonment, one notices the cynicism of the phrase, as well as the deceptive nature of those “dreams” that are never ours, but the whims of some bosses corrupt people who call “dreaming” what, over the years, bitter experiences and disappointments have revealed for what they really are: raptures of pride and selfishness.

We Cubans are fed up with other people’s “dreams” that are just another of so many unfulfilled promises, with manipulative phrases and slogans that do not feed our body or soul. We want something so normal, necessary and imaginable in any part of the world except in Cuba: a simple piece of bread.

The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the person who issues them and do not necessarily represent the opinion of CubaNet.

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