west*wales*news*review

West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

Back from the Land of Pringles

Good to be back in green West Wales after three weeks away in the suffering Communist country of Cuba, where the shops are largely empty (except for Pringles crisps), power and water cuts are everyday occurrences, and people with air conditioners (for when the power is on) say they can’t afford to run them any more. With temperatures up to 38 degrees C this month, and drought instead of the usual May rains, even strolling about outside is quite hard work.

Of course, if you are in a ***** hotel on an all-inclusive deal, the privations may pass you by because the hotel will have a generator and plenty of food, and a swimming pool with water in it. It’s different if you are Cuban.

You can rely on earning the equivalent of $20 to $25 a month. That was not quite so bad when the basic essentials of life were provided free or at minimal cost, but Cuba is shifting, sliding, towards Chinese-style market socialism, in which people have to fend for themselves.

The Pringles, which were everywhere, cost about $2.40 a tub, or nearly an eighth of typical monthly income. My son Pete suggested a likely reason for the Pringles glut. “Maybe they are left over from last year’s football World Cup in Brazil,” he said. “Pringles had huge promotions linked to the Cup.” So they probably dropped off the back of the Brazilian extravaganza.

For sure, when next I enter the Co-op in Lampeter, there will be more than Pringles, fruit juice, carbonated drinks, rice, powdered milk, and perhaps pasta. In Cuba’s second city, Santiago de Cuba, even water was missing from the shelves, and you would hear people in the street asking each other if they knew where they could get water to drink. Here, we can drink tap water. There, you are likely to make yourself ill and a drain on the much-publicised free but resource-starved health service.

PDR

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