A glass of milk, so basic yet so elusive–for Cubans

Food, including the most basic staples, has been rationed in Cuba ever since 1963, which never happened before the Castro era. Milk wasn’t just rationed but restricted to certain people, chiefly children up to the age of 7. Then, in 2007, not long after Raúl Castro became the island’s hereditary dictator, he publicly promised that the production of milk would increase so that all Cubans could drink it freely. Seventeen years later, Cubans are still waiting.

Mind you, this was a relatively modest promise, much less grandiose than the fantastical promises Fidel Castro liberally cranked out, especially in the early days of his reign–such as a standard of living higher than that of the US (or any country in the world, for that matter). Not only did that never happen, but Cubans’ quality of life plummeted, so that now there are serious shortages of practically everything imaginable, and Cubans are fleeing the island in droves.

Empty promises are intrinsic to the “revolution” and always have been. However, since Raúl was reputedly more efficient and business-like than his brother, not a few people thought he’d deliver the vaso de leche. But, as the Who song goes, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” In fact, things have gotten even worse: the regime has been forced to ask the UN for humanitarian shipments of powdered milk, and only for kids under 7 and still rationed.

Again, milk being restricted, let alone unavailable, was inconceivable in pre-Castro Cuba. The dairy industry, like even Cuba’s once-emblematic sugar industry, is only a faint shadow of what it was before 1959. All the regime can offer are excuses and false hope. One would think the math would be easy to do, but willful blindness can ignore just about anything, or at least rationalize it, and it does. So, if the people have no milk, let them drink socialism.

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