News and Facts about Cuba

Opinions of the Cuban Population on San Rafael Boulevard

Opinions of the Cuban Population on San Rafael Boulevard / Hablemos
Press, Elio Delgado
Posted on September 11, 2015

Hablemos Press, Elio Delgado, Havana, 9 September 2015—San Rafael
Boulevard is an old street filled with large stores in the historically
most commercial zone of the Cuban capital. One can still recall the
run-up to Three Kings Day and the toys purveyed for purchase in the
currency that our parents used, which at that time was a strong
currency. Today all that remains are the old stores that sell the worst
products in the devalued currency that we are paid so that we can
acquire them, in addition to some other poorly-stocked establishments
that take only hard currency.

The images that accompany this article are taken on the streets of what
used to be this prosperous commercial boulevard. At present, what is
peddled most are black market items, which range from eyeglasses to a
girl or boy equipped for rented sex. These are the most-sought offers,
because there is nothing to buy in the stores, or there is no money to
do so.

After hearing the say that there would not be any change in
the currency nor increased wages, and that “with calm, so that we do not
err” there is some possible change being considered, we began the year
2015 with no hopes.

In January, the governments of the United States and Cuba began their
talks. But ours is an imposed government. How will it negotiate on our
behalf if it is not representing all the social classes of the country?

Following are some of the many comments that this paradox elicits on the

“What will this government use for money to pay the yumas (Americans)
for what they send over?”

“If the American farmers send products in large quantities, what will
the Cuban government do about the scandalous prices that they affix to
their own products?”

“The time is near. What will they do with ships full of products?”

“You watch; the same will happen as did with the Russians: they [the
Cuban government] preferred for things to go bad in the warehouses
rather than sell them at lower prices.”

“Who cares whether the people will crawl out of the misery in which they

“What will happen if people have the chance to go on the and
see the reality of other countries?”

In the taxi cabs, passengers tell the drivers to enjoy it while they
can, because new-car sales will soon be allowed. The drivers laugh and
reply, “Dream on! You don’t matter to anybody.”

Some elderly people have told me that they hope to live to see Cuba as
it was in the 1950s; that the deception [perpetrated by the regime] is

Last 24 December, an older gentleman confided that he would not like to
leave this world without once more tasting a picadillo made of beef with
olives, capers and raisins, like his mother used to make. Even more than
granting such a simple wish, would that a group of bureaucrats would
leave the government that they hold by force.

“Work, so that you’ll have more!” said the Cuban general-president. And
I ask myself, “More…of what?”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Opinions of the Cuban Population on San Rafael Boulevard /
Hablemos Press, Elio Delgado | Translating Cuba –

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