Columbus’ egg and the ration book
Here, there and everywhere
Christopher Columbus, apparently knowledgeable in marketing and publicity, affirmed with an egg in his hand that this was the world. A certain urban legend back then insists that he squished the two ends of the egg shell to confirm that the earth was round and not flat, as circulated in the fake news of his time.
As strange as it may seem at the start, this brief column deals with eggs, fake news and the Mincin (Cuba’s Ministry of Internal Affairs). It turns out that for weeks rumors had been circulating that in July they would only sell us three eggs, instead of the customary five, through the ration book. The Mincin insisted that five would be sold per person registered in the book.
And so be it, in Havana they delivered five. I went in search of mine. I stood on the queue, that areopagus where if you pay close attention you hear of everything, and if you stir the subject a bit, even with a slight gesture, people start talking. There, on the aforementioned topic of eggs, a boy wrote down with grace: “Hey! Don’t touch my eggs” (a Cuban expression with a double meaning: don’t mess with my balls!). People smiled. But “the ration book is like opening a can without an opener and finding that what you have is not enough for more than 10 days and sometimes it arrives late,” commented an octogenarian who was waiting to buy his quota.
Noticing an audience, the old man reminded that “weeks ago it was 7 and further back it was 10 per person… they have been going down and right now… will we get five? I don’t know,” he said and bowed his bald head. That “I don’t know” carries a load of many lived things that entrench the doubt, sedimenting it, not because of today’s five eggs — which, by the way, you can buy 30 in the black market if you have ONE THOUSAND or TWELVE HUNDRED pesos—because “nothing is stable, for sure,” he says. “Today we have five eggs and tomorrow… sugar… how much, today the power is on, but tomorrow there will be a blackout again and so on… the power plants are like almond trees, today one piece breaks, tomorrow we have to maintain another, and then something else breaks, and so we go from less blackouts to more blackouts.”
Enough comments for today, there were more and they touched the entire spectrum of daily life, such as the excessive price of food that last maybe 20 days, the lack of medicines in pharmacies, a system of transportation that does not work, and of which I’ve written about. And suddenly, softly, serenely, came a: “You can’t eat bullshit!” from a middle-aged man. He made me think that when the crisis is so wide and deep, credibility suffers.
The remora, commonly known as sucker fish, lacks audacity. To eat it sticks with its suckers (hence its popular name) to the belly of large predators such as sharks. Thus, in a kind of hitchhiking, it travels feeding on what falls from the mouth of the larger predator who transports it.
In politics the simile fits perfectly. President Joe Biden has chosen to stick to the belly of the shark (Trump) and follow, with respect to Cuba, the line drawn by him. If the only option Democrat’s have to win votes in Florida, a state Biden lost in 2020, is to validate the Trumpist policy… for whom would a significant number of voters cast votes: the shark or the sucker fish?
Biden, apart from certain flexibilizations, essentially maintains the Cuban political line drawn by his predecessor, thus favoring Republican candidacies come this November. Remember that on the 8th of November there will be mid-term elections in which a third of the Senate and 435 seats in the House of Representatives are renewed. Faced with the Democrats’ clumsiness, during a recent exchange between Floridians, one observed that he [Biden] “lacks talent,” and another responded, stating, “only a radical, bold change could improve the Democratic possibilities.” A third person, apparently Cuban-American, was lapidary : “What audacity? What he lacks are balls [eggs as explained in the note above regarding Columbus and the egg].” So it appears that both sides of this argument are lacking ‘eggs’.