The History of Fools in the Palace


When we speak of cynicism, contempt, irony and ridicule, what comes to mind for the majority of Cubans is the already accustomed way of reacting on the part of the legion of unpopular figures in every government agency on the island. When you live in Cuba and some misfortune happens to befall you, you already know that you have to be prepared for some remarkable things to happen to you, since you do not have insurance, nobody is going to lend you money, especially since nobody has any, and, above all, the government is not going to lift a finger to help you, but it will serve as the gravedigger of your dreams and the worst of your nightmares.

Any of the following things could happen to anyone in any part of the world, the curious thing is that, in Cuba, the absurd, the ridiculous, the contempt and the cynicism, will reach heights never seen before. In this spirit, let me present the following true stories below.

– Maritza took her son to see the doctor because of his intolerance to cow’s milk, the doctor recommended that she start giving him yogurt, but it so happens that they live in a municipality where dietary items of this nature are not issued, so Maritza went to the Ministry public health. After raising his case, the response she received from the person in charge is that, due to the lack of gasoline, a truck would not be able reach a municipality so far away from the capital only because of the yogurt for her son, in addition, he advised her to give him raw sugar with water in the morning, since according to him, this was a very healthy drink for the child and refreshing for the intestines. This is the initial response where the agony starts for this mother who observes the cynical little smile of the person in charge of the health of her son.
– Rubén, a common worker with a minimum monthly salary of about two hundred and fifty Cuban pesos (€ 10), has suffered a partial collapse inside his house. He has gone to the National Assembly of Popular Power and has taken photos and videos of what has happened to his home. The secretary who deals with him, with a phone in her hand, looking bothered, reluctantly tells him that she has lived in a hostel for twenty years, that he shouldn’t be under any illusions that somebody is going to give him a house to live in, let alone his wife, his mother and his two children, Saúl (3) and Mónica (8). When the official in charge tends to him, he tells him that they simply do not have a house to give them and that he must make a concerted effort, to try to get the money and rebuild the house on his own. This is the absurdity in Cuba, where housing is supposed to be guaranteed. People are told to resolve it themselves and that the State doesn’t have to help you.
– Amelia works as a cook for a construction brigade. One day, she came to work like any other day and was told after getting there not to show up until further notice because there was no oil to cook with and that the workers would finish work at 12 noon so that they could go home for lunch. All this happened without any warning, as is common in Cuba, where people live uninformed all the time and the worst misfortunes happen to you at the least convenient time. Amelia is the primary breadwinner in her household, where now her elderly parents, at a time when her mother is bedridden, will have to wait patiently for medicines, food and other basic necessities, until one of these bosses in charge eventually decides that she can return to work.

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