Down San Miguel. Up Guines. Walking between the suburban hills and the uncivil garbage at every corner in the neighborhood. With his pristine guayabera and his black briefcase as ridiculous as his dyed mustache.
He’s the restaurant inspector from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. The Chief Inspector who oversees the private businesses of this whole municipality, who imposes fines and takes away licenses in bulk.
For this he prefers to go in the mornings. For this he inspects. For this the Revolutionary State of the 21st century island pays him. Everything in order, it seems. And for this, too, before continuing his tour as amateur rip-off artist, he brazenly asks for a little bill of 50 or 100 (in “National Money” of course, no one should be scandalized: it is said, even with gratitude, that the tariff is almost a royal prerogative for what the new national entrepreneurial class earns).
Fidel Castro was right, damn it, At this point in a history without histology, we Cubans should no longer have the right to “play at capitalism.” At the first opportunity, we turn ourselves doubly into vermin: we embezzle the dinosaur State tax, and extort the poor idiot proprietor, incapable of protest from panic over not being able to extract himself from his solvent misery.
The same mafia scene is everywhere, except in the media of the Island of Freedom, terrain that is going to swallow the trance of transition or perhaps the Raul regime transaction. Meanwhile, the larger and more glamorous the business (the dreamy private restaurants of Brave New Vedado, for example), the worse the dark drinking binge, reflection of the secrecy we as a nation are used to. It’s already been said by Marti, The Great Moralizer (or was he The Little Prince, this story straight out of the The Golden Age): in politics what matters is invisible to the eyes, it can’t be seen well if not with the heart with which we survive. If the Cuban Parliament is silent on questions of major significance, why opportunistically denounce a Kafkaesque bastard inspector?
Then come the close bribes of the second kind. I will pay you not to fine me, and on top of that I will pay you to fine my neighbor so I will win customers in the competition. And, if in the midst of this labyrinth of hidden corruption, I can complicate it for you with a little Cannabis or Yankee cable TV or Pornography or Counterrevolution (The Four Horsemen of the ApoCubalypse), all the better!
Of course, we should speak elsewhere about the posts purchased in the hard currency market of CUCs. We should be addressing the issue of the tariffs privileged workers must pay daily to their managers (in stores, banks, gas stations and other deliverers of delicacies), to avoid being fired or implicated in a legal case (of those that exploit the internet and make them think that now is really the fabled end of the Revolution, when we are only at its beginning).
Better we not speak of the labor unions of organized cadavers. Let’s not go all Latin Americanista, please. Every daybreak takes its time, according to the period of radioactive decay of certain isotopes of presidential clinical use. The capos of our narco-heaven could sit and wait for new measures of economic liberalization, as well as for the dripping contamination of the security organs. Cuba falls, but calmly, gentlemen. Let’s not put the barbarity in front of the mask (the permanent utopia is a question of image). For now, he’s barely a pocket swine with his little neighborhood billfold of 50s and 100s in local currency.
April 26 2012