HAVANA TIMES – Customers who have to shop at the Plaza de Carlos III, in the only store in the shopping center that sells in Cuban pesos, are in luck. The monthly “combo”, which they sell through the ration book in state stores, restricted by bodegas (ration stores) for almost two years, arrived this “generous” Friday: two packages of sausages, two of minced meat, one liquid detergent, two small powder detergents and a bottle of cooking oil, all for 311 pesos (just over a USD).
Thus, in these times of shortages, it was not surprising that there was an immense line, spread between the two sidewalks down the side street, as people sought to protect themselves from the sun – some standing and others, the lucky among the lucky, sitting.
“Wow, how good the combo is,” an old woman exclaimed when she saw the little board. But another was disappointed: “That’s how hungry we are, girl, because no one can eat that minced meat.”
In the midst of the endless shortages, those 400-gram tubes from the Richmeat brand – a Mexican brand that has a factory in the Mariel free trade zone – are the hope for the most disadvantaged, especially the elderly. It is a food, however, whose amount of fat and preservatives can make them sick. “I try to eat them, both the mincemeat and sausages, but they hurt my gallbladder. When I can’t fi