I try to imagine an incredible twenty-four hours in which I wouldn’t have to rely on the informal market. What about a day without the milk from those who knock on my door, replacing the absence of dairy in the rationed market for those of us who are older than seven and younger than sixty five? I can’t conceive of a day without immersing myself in the black market in order to buy eggs, cooking oil or tomato paste. Even to buy some peanuts, I must cross the line of illegality.
If I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, most likely I’ll have to take an unlicensed taxi. Not to mention the wide spectrum of underground workers to whom I go when my washing machine breaks, my gas stove clogs or the shower stops working. All of them, in the shadows, sustain me day-to-day and supplement the limited services offered by the State.
Even the newspaper I must buy overpriced, from the seniors who, awake since dawn, acquire all of the copies of Granma and Juventud Rebelde and resell them to make up for their reduced pensions. And let’s not even talk about the “unmentionables” that are provided to us by the black market or the numerous “open sesames” that we can get by slipping a bill into the right hands. But the most surprising is the infinite capacity of regeneration, shown by the informal vendors, after one of the frequent raids against them.
I don’t know about you, but me, I can’t live a day without the black market.
Photo caption: Old people who sell products in the “black market” to supplement their meager pensions.