The Plague Continues / Fernando Damaso
Fernando Damaso, Translator: Unstated
I had no intention of returning to the issue of state inspectors, which
I addressed on 14 April of this year under the title "Inspectors: the
new plague." However, subsequent events witnessed by me and verified
information given by some vendors on their own, the main victims, force
me to do so.
Let me make myself clear, I am not against State inspection, but I am
against the arbitrary manner in which it is performed and its methods.
Going after a self-employed seller, as if he were a criminal or a
fugitive from justice, at the first opportunity, punishing him with
excessive fines — no lower than 250 pesos national currency the minimum
monthly wage of a Cuban — is not inspecting anything, rather it is a
witch hunt, especially when these inspections are not undertaken of
government facilities, most of which remain dirty and unhygienic, as if
there were no health regulations for them.
To fine a seller of homemade crackers or a vegetable seller 500 National
Pesos because they stayed in one place for more than 20 minutes, is
absurd and unjust. So is fining a candy seller who sells outside a
school, given the demand of some clients, because according to the
inspector this is prohibited because children can make themselves sick
and the school director is responsible for their health. Yet at the same
time the school is filthy, unpainted, with areas and bathrooms closed
off, the drinking water — if there is any — comes directly from the
street, there is a lack of drinking fountains, the hygiene stands out
for its absence, and the students, without any cafeteria, have no lunch,
it being replaced by what's called a "hearty snack" (a little bread with
some pasta and a miniscule glass of soy yogurt), which is not a snack
much less a hearty one.
What is striking is that the voluminous apparatus of inspectors is
directed only against the self-employed, who pay high monthly taxes (600
Cuban pesos to sell cotton candy on a corner). It seems that it is only
them who the authorities are interested in inspecting and it so happens
that by fining them they take away the meager earning they can get, in
order to avoid their becoming rich and a part of the famous 1%, leaving
them to belong to the 99%.
The plague continues making its rounds without any kind of control, and
in the face of the rejection of the majority of the population, who
every day reject it more and support the self-employed vendors, who
offer better and more varied products and services than the
establishments of the State.
September 29 2012