Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly

Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly
Posted on August 29, 2014

14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 28 August 2014 – "I need some dark
glasses," Veronica told me one day when I ran into her on the street.
Almost seventy, the lady underwent cataract surgery some months ago and
now must "take care of my eyes," as she explained to me. She works in
the sun selling jabitas (plastic bags) to the customers of the farmers
market on Tulipan Street. The harsh midday glare is hard on her
eyesight, but that's not the worst of her problems. "We have an alarm
system to know when the police are coming, although sometimes they're in
plainclothes and catch us by surprise." Last month she paid a 1,500
Cuban peso fine (roughly $60 US) for engaging in illegal sales, and this
week she received a warning letter for recidivism for the same offense.

If you read articles like Randy Alonso's about the absence of bags in
the hard currency stores, you might come to believe this resource is
being diverted into the hands of unscrupulous traders. However, it's
enough to simply know Veronica to understand that her business is one
more of misery than of profit. For the four decades she worked as a
cleaning assistant in a school, the lady now receives a pension that
doesn't exceed ten dollars a month. Without the resale of the plastic
bags, she would have to beg, but she asserts that she "would die before
asking for money in the streets." She is not to blame, rather she is a
victim of the circumstances that have pushed her into an illegal
activity to survive.

Having to carry purchases in one's hands in the absence of bags is
something that annoys any buyer. But realizing that Randy Alonzo, one of
the great spokesmen of the current system, doesn't know the human dramas
that lead to the diversion of plastic bags, is even more irritating.
It's not about callous people who are dedicated to enriching themselves
through the fruits of State embezzlement, but rather citizens whose
economic poverty leads them to resell whatever product comes into their
hands. Right now Veronica is outside some business, wearing the old dark
glasses they gave her, muttering "I have jabitas, I have jabitas, one
peso each."

Source: Jabitas (Plastic Bags) and Pensions for the Elderly |
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