Not On Carbs Alone

Not On Carbs Alone / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, Translator: Unstated

Leafing through the pages of official Cuban publications in recent days,

I see articles on the in which there are references to plans for

the production of potatoes, malanga, yams, yucca, bananas, vegetables,

produce and condiments. This is all great news since these efforts will

help feed the population. There is very little or no discussion,

however, of meat, fish, shellfish or dairy. It seems these are much more

difficult to produce, or that their successful production is much less

palpable judging by their prolonged absences from store shelves and

their inflated prices, which make them unaffordable for most citizens.

Many are aware, at least theoretically, of the four basic groups,

but for the average Cuban these have been historically reduced to two –

those that fill the stomach and those that nourish. Perhaps erroneously,

the first group includes all simple and complex carbohydrates such as

vegetables, grains, cereals and fruits. In the second group are all the

meats and the dairy products. In light of the current situation, many

would say, "Human beings cannot live on carbs alone." And they would be


Besides, these products are only appropriate for immediate domestic

consumption. There is not much of an international market for them since

most cannot be stored and are highly perishable. And with the possible

exception of the potato, no matter how many tons might be produced, they

would never be considered products suitable for export.

It would be interesting to know in detail what has happened to our

traditional exports such as sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, shellfish and

fruit, some of which have disappeared entirely while supplies of others

have been so reduced that we almost no longer speak of them. The

collapse of the sugar industry is the most familiar blunder, but there

is now talk of something similar happening with nickel, of halting its

production and dismantling the old Nicaro Nickel Company because of the

mineral's low price on the world market and the prevalence of corruption

within the company. An editorial was published overseas in which the

writer noted that "Cuba is like a body that loses a limb every day

until, in the end, it is totally dismembered." This analogy is not far

removed from reality and it describes the situation accurately.

The proposed "guidelines," with all their identifying numbers, are

nothing more than that — guidelines. By themselves they will feed no

one, nor solve any problem, nor reinforce (much less create) the

foundations for a new economy. That is possible only with the

participation and efforts of all Cubans — state as well as private

enterprises — united to resolve our economic crisis. Clinging to a

single path, especially one that has been so clearly shown to be a

disaster and the principal cause of the current critical situation,

would be to repeat past mistakes. It would mean the irresponsible

sacrifice of millions of Cubans, forcing them to live in misery and

giving the youngest and most capable an incentive to emigrate. It is

never too late to reconsider, though with each passing day there is less

time to do so.

September 17 2012

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