News and Facts about Cuba

Prohibition at G Street, Havana

Prohibition at G Street, Havana
December 12, 2014
Ernesto Carralero Burgos

HAVANA TIMES — Havana’s renowned Parque G has been under a “local
Prohibition” for some weeks now.

After some time away, I went to G Street with some friends, only to find
that the and drinks stand located at the intersection of 23rd
Street (usually teeming with people) was empty. There were no alcoholic
beverages on its shelves.

Across the street, at the Casa Balear bar, with the exception of those
cocktails that once cost 15 pesos and whose price has been bumped up to
20, all other drinks had also been taken away.

At the gas station on 23rd street (which was also empty), before we
could even ask, the clerk said to us with a tired tone of voice:

“Kids, don’t go anywhere else. No alcohol can be sold on G Street on
Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. The decision came from the top.”

It was true. With the exception of the Casa Balear, the Literary Café
(baptized as the “Rock Hangout” by its regulars) and the Castillo de
Jagua (where prices are sky-high), no other establishments
were authorized to sell alcoholic beverages. The three establishments
above were only allowed to serve cocktails, forcing anyone interested in
drinking to remain in the premises.

In addition, those who sell homemade wine in the area have been forced
to retreat owing to the increased presence there.

Those who sell wine at home, even the legendary 666 (a registered
trademark for the park’s regulars) have discontinued their sales because
of State harassment.

Not even the clerks at these establishments know whether this is a
permanent or transitory measure.

It is true that alcoholism rates in Cuba are alarming, but I fear this
measure isn’t even aimed at this concrete problem. Rather, it seems to
be another attempt at dismantling the space rock enthusiasts have made
for themselves.

How else can we explain the fact that the prohibition only applies to G
street and excludes local bars, where a drink costs anywhere from 20
Cuban pesos to 2 dollars, or that the city’s discos and places like the
“Amphitheater”, where people from the “projects” meet (places that tend
to be violent) have not been affected by the measure?

The atmosphere that reigns at Parque G has always bothered the
authorities. The current measure only applies on weekends, which is when
most people gather there.

They are trying to take apart that space or to bother those there, as
anyone who wants to drink need only walk to the area near Coppelia,
where everything continues to work as usual. Perhaps the idea is to
increase the profits of other establishments.

At any rate, I don’t think they’ll achieve anything other than make the
establishments in question, and the people who made a living catering to
the existing demand, lose money. No park regular will stop going there
because of these new restrictions. Most of the authentic “rock
enthusiasts” I know don’t even drink.

People don’t go to G Street only to sit on the grass and drink. They
also go there to be free, and that is more important than any drink.

All the while, a drunken elderly man climbs up a tree to the applause of
his peers and someone offers him a sip of Havana Club. The police look
on from a distance – they are less popular than ever today. Nothing has
changed. To paraphrase a popular Cuban song, “the park is the same as

Source: Prohibition at G Street, Havana – Havana –

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