Corrupción – Cuba – Corruption
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August 2015
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When the Eggs Go Missing

When the Eggs Go Missing / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on August 1, 2015

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 30 July 2015 — One day it’s cooking
oil, another it’s floor cleaning clothes or washing detergent, but there
is always a product that all of a sudden doesn’t appear on the shelves
either in the ration market or in the hard currency stores, “nor even in
the spiritual centers” as some say.

When the eggs go missing, it is almost never the fault of the hens, but
of the bad organization in production or distribution. The egg is a key
player in the dramatic food situation of Cubans. As my neighbor
Magdalena says, “It’s a can’t-miss,” because of which we call it a
“lifesaver.” However, it vanishes, disappears, goes poof! like in those
magic acts, and then alternative ways of selling it have to be put to work.

On the ration card, every citizen gets five eggs a month at a price of
15 centavos. In the free market, a 30-egg carton costs 33 Cuban pesos,
and in the “shopping” – as we call the hard currency stores – they cost
3.60 convertible pesos (CUC), almost triple what they cost in the free
market. In the black market, which functions according to the strict
rules of supply and demand, eggs will always be more expensive than in
the ration stores and cheaper than in convertible pesos, with their
price rising and falling according to their presence or absence.

In March of this year, a high-profile corruption case came to light in
which 19 officials from a State company were sentenced to prison terms
of between 5 and 15 years for their involvement in the diversion of more
than 8 million eggs to the illegal market, with an economic impact of
over 8,907,562 pesos. But no one can believe that once those lawbreakers
were discovered the racket ended. It was enough for the scarcity to come
up with a new fiddle in which each played his or her role of greater or
lesser risk, greater or lesser effort and hence, with greater or lesser

At that time private restaurants and snack bars were not authorized, the
underground market in eggs was limited to door-to-door sales, offering
the merchandise to people in their homes. I’ll never forget one day when
a woman came to my house accompanied by a child with a beach ball. “Do
you want eggs?” she asked me. “Give me ten,” I said and then, as if by
magic, she took the eggs out of the ball. Now the owners of paladares –
private restaurants – and especially those who make sweets, monopolize
the purchase. The official media try to blame all the scarcities on
private entrepreneurs, and even hold them responsible for the frequent
detours, almost like kidnappings, of what leaves the warehouses headed
to the markets.

The cyclist in the photo walked several miles along Rancho Boyeros
Avenue in Havana with his precious cargo. At first he tried to pedal,
but the height of his construction made him lose his balance. Throughout
his journey he suffered every kind of joke from taxi drivers and truck
drivers, but he was lucky not to stumble into a police patrol.

Source: When the Eggs Go Missing / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar |
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