Who is going to pay for the potato loss?

Halfway through a Congress of the Communist Party which calls for efficiency and organization in the state matters, particularly those related to the national food supplies, nearly one hundred potato sacks had to be thrown away at the nearby farmers’ market Jaimanitas.

Foto: Aliester Prats
Foto: Aliester Prats

The head of El Porvenir, a shop that belongs to the Jesús Menéndez Cooperative of Credits and Services, expressed that “such large amounts of potatoes were lost due to the wrong distribution handled by the municipal administration. No potatoes had been supplied to Jaimanitas for almost three years and locals were forced to travel dozens of kilometres to buy it. As a response to a great number of complaints made at the assemblies, a truck loaded with potatoes was sent there.”

Alfredo Ramos, head of the communal enterprise, was one of the persons that helped to dispose of the potatoes; he compares food disposal of similar quantities to a crime. “I have managed to save a few of the sacks for pigs but there were too many, an entire truckload.”

Ramón Tamayo, a local shoe cleaner who works in front of the market could observe the entire drama of rotten potatoes right from his working spot. “Cubans either don’t do anything or they do too much,” says Tamayo. “Three years without potatoes and now this avalanche that’s impossible to consume in a short time even with all the hunger there is. I saw people carrying away many sacks and I saw the incredibly long lines. But still it was a lot of potatoes, too many. It only takes one rotten sack to make the entire load go bad and that’s exactly what happened in the end.”

The head of El Porvenir did what she could to save the major part of the load. “We washed dozens of sacks and picked the good ones for sale but despite our efforts we lost an enormous amount. We are not responsible for such loss and there is a very important question: Who is going to pay for the disposal in this case?”

Perhaps it is the delegates of the Communist Party Congress who “have been deeply analysing the deficiencies and strategies that are not efficient enough to get the Cuban economy back on its feet” who have the answer. In the meantime, efforts of workmen, crop resources, storage and transportation costs have been thrown to the garbage. Tamayo has his own answer: the State is going to pay for the rotten potatoes but it is the people – who need potatoes and many other lacking things to survive – who are going to suffer the consequences of the loss.”

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