School snack

Who doesn’t remember the sweets and the accompanying soft drink we received, during the years of the Soviet subsidy, as a school snack.  Like everything that is free, we ended up diminishing its important and during recess many of us played at spraying the fizzy drink and tossing the pastries.  In our hands, the guava pastries and the sugar cookies flew from the balcony of my little school on Salud Street at the corner of Soledad.  In spite of the fact that we undervalued it, without this snack in the middle of classes we would have been hungry and exhausted by midday.

At the beginning of the economic crises of the nineties, one of the first subsidies to disappear was the snack for elementary school students.  The children stopped hearing the sound of the bottles being opened, or of the truck with the tins of cookies that would come early in the morning.  Those tossed sweets became a memory that we tortured ourselves with, for so much wastefulness.  The parents had to take on the task of preparing a snack for school and no one explained in the press why, precisely, they’d decided to eliminate that much needed sustenance.


  1. Wow, and we used to (and still do) complain about school lunches: A) how bad they are or B) that we’re not going to have them as often. All they got was pastry and cola–very nutritious and plentiful! Que viva la revolucion! Que viva Fidel y el Fidelismo! Envidio al que viva en Cuba! Que no daria yo por estar alli!

  2. Yoanii it may be the regime is inardvertantly doing the kids a favour I am not sure that sticky cakes and cola are the best thing to have perhaps some fruit and water.I was in Cuba last year and acknowledge the real problems you face because of the embargo and the bureaucracy of the party and the state.However I have visited schools and the students were a delight and I must say they look pretty healthy in comparison to the unhealthy often obese kids in Scottish schools.What we are gradually installing in Scottish schools is free balanced nutritional lunches and healthy breakfasts or snacks that combined to nutritional education may help reduce the crisis in obesity facing us.Cuba of course faces different problems but ironically obesity doesnt seem to be one of them looking at the Cuban people on the street of Havana last year.Yoani I do enjoy reaqding your blog and I do acknowledge the reason for your pessimism however maybe now and again you miss the positive aspects of Cuban society.

  3. The largess of the Scots administration is largely funded by the English taxpayer, as an electoral bribe from what passes for a British Government these days. It would be a mistake to believe that, even where well-established, democracy is well observed outside Cuba. England has just endured a decade of the most corrupt and incompetent administration since Lord North, largely as a result of the bloated electoral influence of a rabble of “looney-left” hillbillies in rotten boroughs north of the border, who, by a piece of corruption popularly known as “the West Lothian Question,” have been rendered immune to many of the consequences of their own folly.
    It is, indeed, a good idea to provide fruit and milk to schoolchildren, and pre-revolutionary Cuba produced plenty of both. Their more equitable distribution would have been a good thing but Castro has brought about their virtual extinction as a feature of domestic agriculture. Fruit now has to be imported. The US embargo is, of course, a total “red-herring” in this context as humanitarian supplies – food, medicine, and, indeed, anything the people might need, as opposed to what the bloated communist aristocracy might like to enjoy – are exempt. With production down by around eighty percent, this even includes sugar for unhealthy snacks.

  4. you cubans that complain shoud go see what going on in haiti…………..they eat dirt overthere to survive.yes fucking dirt they mixed dirt and water let it sit in the sun and they have cookies………….hows that maybe u should try it Y unstead of having pork for supper tonight………iff u have a chance go visit haiti not far from your island im sure when u return to cuba..youwiilll enjoy yourself unstead off criing………….go to haiti and have fun………….or stay on ur island maybe some tourist wiilll bring u a gift……………..

  5. This is in response to comment # 1. For those of you who only speak English, what he is saying in Spanish is: Long live the “Robolution”, long live Fidel! I envy those who live in Cuba. I wish I was there! Well, I may grant your wishes, I am willing to buy you a “one way ticket” with no return. After a few month of your stay in Cuba you probably wish you never said: Viva Fidel!

    In response to Scottishsocialist, who claims that the problems Cuba faces today is because of the Embargo.
    Let me surprise all of you who are of the same idea. THERE IS NO EMBARGO, the US is been trading with Cuba for many years but the most starling figures are available at: Foreign Trade Statistics (US Trade Balance with Cuba)
    Year 2008 $660.3 Millions, 2007 $447.1, 2006 $340.5, 2005 $369, 2004 $404.1, 2003 $259.1, 2002 $145.9 Millions, other years figures are also available. All the above purchases are done in cash, but Cuba wish that the suckers in Washington lift the “so call embargo” so that future trade is done on credit, YES, CREDIT. Why? I tell why, because Cuba wants to continue having other countries to subsidize their inefficiencies. Cuba has never, never repaid their billions of dollars in debts to countries such as: Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, China, etc… (Just to name a few)

    I hope the above clarifies some of the inconsistencies and lack of knowledge on the comments made by fellow travelers on this blog.

  6. @michel . . . canadiense

    By your logic, no one anywhere should want or strive for something better than they have because someone somewhere else might have it worse.

  7. Lori esposa de Ñico, esta que se hace llamar: michele canadiense, entra a este blog a menudo para atacar todo lo que dice Yoani o cualquiera de nosotros que tengamos una opinión contraria a la de estos comunistas solapados. Sólo ven lo que quieren ver y nadamás.

  8. A picture is worth a thousand words!!!!!!! Your picture today in my opinion speaks volumes of happy, well nourished, neatly groomed children. They appear to be anxious to learn. One questions their backs are all to the camera is this symbolizing unity is within and they are turning their backs on the out side world.

  9. Yoani, so what happened if you complained about being hungry while at school?

    We moved to Jamaica for awhile, and I remeber the box drinks, the banana chips, and other cool snacks. They cost in the cents. When the Cubans came in 1980, things started to disappear. In 1981 when the People’s National Party was thrown out of office, goods began to return. There was no US embargo to blame for the lack of food items in 1980; it was all government mismanagement, i.e., socialism. The Cubans had doctors and other advisors in the country. We thought Jamaica was on the brink. Luckily, the people voted freely and kicked Manley out of power.

    Still wishing you the best – el guero!

    Now to respond to some knuckleheads:

    scottishsocialist – yeah, the government is doing the kids a favor by starving them. Well said, sir! As for the embargo being to blame, see my above comments regarding my schooling at Belair school in Mandeville, Jamaica W.I. And please don’t lecture someone on what you see as the positive aspects of anything when they are living in an island prison. Easy for you, living in a relatively free society, to throw stones across the pond, isn’t it? You should have taken up Yoani on her offer to live like the Cubans. It must suck to be enslaved to ideology.

    Michelle el Canadiense, what’s up with the anger? Stop acting like a coullion with the choo rouge, dude. So, Cuba is the 2nd poorest country in the hemisphere and they are to feel good about it because they aren’t the poorest? Ridiculous. What a couillon!

    Carlos, es mas que eso. Es algo mental.

    #8, interesting you say that. I brought my Kindergarten son over to the screen to look at the picture and asked him if he would want to go to a school like that where everyone dressed the same. He flat out said NO. There was no political commentary as he is too young for that and busy being a kid playing Transformers, which is just the way it needs to be. I don’t know if you have kids, but if you don’t, you might want to zip it. If you do, send your kids to a school of indoctrination like that, please.

  10. 9-from-8 obvious you don’t live near a Catholic School where uniforms are promoted.
    Please let your children grow up free of your bias!!!!!!!!

  11. Yolanda, This is a critcal time in time to lift the embargo, and if this time pass’s who knows when it may ever come again.

    The American Press loves anything about money power and sex.
    You know who is coming from The USA on a regular basis and WHY they are coming, it’s things that they can’t do in their own homeland because of who they are, yet they will come to Cuba and use the population to live their own sick perversations.

    Get you a couple good posting about who/what/when which will bring more attention to the plights of Cubans and The isolation of 11 million people literally in bondage because of the embargo. Go girl, get to work.

  12. Yoani I am afraid your commentators are not as good as your blog but then thats not your fault.Firstly Ian Salisbury your ignorance about Scotland does not bode well for your knowledge of Cuba.This is hardly the place to discuss Scotlands economic and constitutional arrangement but for the record if you take north sea oil into account Scotland has been subsidising England for 25 years.Your ignorance is confirmed by your statement that the embargo is irrelevant to Cuba since it has strangled the Cuban economy for 40 years and imposed enormous costs on any imports. As for Carlos you are even more delusional”there is no embargo” sure and pigs fly over the Malecon.Patricio those kids dont look starved too me and your son obviously is picking up his fathers bad taste and his preference for transformers will no doubt help his education!

  13. Hey American, there is no Embargo; stop beating the drum. The numbers are there for you to see it, unless you are blind; are you? You repeat a lie so many times that you start to believe it yourself and also confuse others who listen to your garbage and are not up to date on what Castro & Granma are trying to suppress.

  14. #10, I graduated from a catholic school in New Orleans in full Navy khaki attire, from the black shoes, brass buckle belt, nametag, etc. Stop your lecturing. You don’t know the first thing about me. I just asked my son a simple question. At any rate, that wasn’t the essence of my point, but I did notice that you failed to address my main points. This, too, makes you a couillon.

    And you want my kids to be free from bias? Great idea. They shouldn’t be in the public schools then, should they? My kids will be free to make up their own minds, unlike the kids in the picture above, and unlike the likes of you who hate parents like me because I don’t back up your ideology. Screw you. Have a nice day.

    Scottish, don’t you even think about insulting me or my kid #$@! that’ll be your #$@!ing #$@!. You intolerant #$@!s demand that no one be judged for anything, yet here you sit in judgment of me and my kid based on a rebuttal I made to your comment. Well #$@! you. My kid is a kindergartner and likes to play. If you have a problem with that, then #$@! your uptight socialist #$@!, mother #$@!er. I take that #$@! personally. You would never say that #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@!, #$@! I’d #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@! #$@!. #$@! #$@!.

    I am #$@!ing out of here, you miserable #$@!ing socialists/communists. Keep #$@! #$@!ing misery. I don’t want it and will never be subjected to it. I live free. #$@! you all, commie #$@!ing #$@!.


    Suerte, Yoani. Sigo leyendo aqui pero sin comentarios.

  15. Carlos, Maybe just one more generation. Don’t attack someone that want’s to help Yoani, you maybe not so much.
    There is a UN Human Right’s Representive coming to Cuba in the near future, and you dear Carlos, have know idea who I am. Sometimes my enemy’s enemy is my friend.

  16. @ Carlos, I’d like to clarify, that A) I’m not a male and B) My comments were SARCASTIC. Didn’t you detect that????

  17. @ Scottishsocialist – I know what you’re saying in comment no. 2, BUT they weren’t getting cakes because they’re good or bad, they were getting them CAUSE THAT WAS ALL THEY HAD and she’s trying to see that they’re not even getting that anymore. Get it? She has said in other entries that NOT ALL PARENTS HAVE so as to give their children something from home so many of the counted on what school would give them. While she recognizes that it wasn’t good food IT WAS BETTER THAN NOTHING, which is what they now got.

  18. @ Patricio, no nos dejes, yo estoy completamente de acuerdo con tus comentarios e inclusive disfruto mucho de ellas. Es necesario tener por lo menos algunos aqui que no son soñadores sino realistas. Que manera de haber gente tonta aqui, por dios!

  19. American, please explain to me how you are trying to help Yoani. Are you for the lifting of the embargo or not?

    Scottishsocialist, your nickname says it all. I don’t think for a moment that I am delusional. Delusional is the person who denies that Cuba is been trading with the United States for many years and the numbers are quite significant for you to denied it and for “Granma” not to print it. The meaning of the word “Embargo” According to the dictionary is: A prohibition by a government on certain or all trade with a foreign nation.
    Let me see if I can read you, if Cuba buys from the United States and paid cash for those goods, then what do you call that; Trade or Embargo?

  20. Chuckle! Of course domestic British politics is irrelevant to this site so I’m delighted that our Celtic Stalinist took the bate with such alacrity :-))
    The rational for socialism, as opposed to other supposedly benevolent political philosophies such as liberalism or enlightened conservatism, is that the superior efficiency of the command economy would create the resources to provide a better standard of living for the masses. Any residual credibility this idea might have had was demolished by Friedrick Hayek’s 1944 tome “The Road to Serfdom.” The collapse of Cuban (and Zimbabwean) agriculture is exactly as he predicted and no amount of imported, starry-eyed Maoists hacking away at the cane was ever going to get sugar production up to the planned ten million tones. There is a belief, not restricted to Scotland, however, that extraction – oil, gas, nickle, etc. – can somehow compensate for the disappearance of the domestic economy. That is to say, that socialism might be funded by workers in other countries who, thanks to capitalism, have the resources to buy the product. A Soviet era joke (which I’ve quoted in EL PAIS :-)) had Brezhnev awakening from a nightmare. His wife asks “What’s the matter, Leonid?” “I’ve just dreamed that the whole world had become socialist!” “What would be so terrible about that?” “If the whole world is socialist – who’s going to feed us?!”
    In the end, even oil couldn’t save the Soviet regime. The tragedy of Cuba is that it’s people have the enterprise and drive to make the island prosperous but the regime forces them to use all their ingenuity merely to survive. Others, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, believe, with our Scotsman, that the road to serfdom might be made inviting if lubricated with oil. Even before the fall in the oil price, Chavez’s attempts to emulate the policies of “wise grandfather” Fidel had proved devastating and it is interesting to note how similar the two countries have become, even down to having two currencies: Officially, 2.15 bolivars per dollar but actual dollars having the purchasing power of 5.4. Falls in food production have produced an inflation rate of around 40% in this sector, against a background rate of around 30% (the highest in 12 years and rising). Surveys show this to be the principle concern of the people but, in this embryonic socialist Utopia, where the murder rate was 14,000 last year (the highest of any country not actually at war), almost equally high on the list was … believe it or not … social security! Having halved the number of businesses operating in Venezuela, Chavez is following Castro’s example, producing statistics that are a pack of lies. Officially, unemployment is below 7% but, unfortunately for the regime, the National Institute of Statistics of Venezuela reports that 43% of the population has no legitimate employment or regular income and, consequently, no social security.
    Welcome to mainland Cuba!

  21. American and Scottishsocialist what embargo are you talking about??????

    Among Cuba’s commercial partners USA lies in place #5.
    In 2007 USA sold to Cuba goods for $582 000 000
    In 2006 sold goods for $484 000 000
    In 2008 sold goods for $680 000 000
    USA supplies Cuba almost all food the island needs, including……………..sugar!!!!!!!!!

    In the years of the soviet subside to Cuba, the dictatorship received from Russia $360 000 000 000 cash and all needed, oil, weapons, wood, machinery, trucks. iron, paper and spear parts.
    Only the received cash were equivalent to 100 Plan Marshall ………….. remember people……… with only one Plan Marchall Europe rose from devastation to welfare after WWII………… so


  22. I’m not sure what “bitching” comprises, but it’s difficult to “enjoy” one’s self when a dozen million people are in chains. Freed from Castro, the Cubans have the drive and energy to make their island prosperous, and the generosity of spirit to make it socially just. No cause is “lost” so long as people of good will, like Yoani, are prepared to strive for it. They deserve our support.

  23. michel –canadiense ===tu vive en libertad pero quiere que el pueblo de cuba viva bajo un dictadure que lleva 50 anos

    tu no tiene moral =========pero apoyas a el asesino de los castro=======que asqueroso

  24. 291RCR dice: 31 Enero 2009 a las 20:03

    A picture is worth a thousand words!!!!!!!
    You’re right, take a look:

    Cuba for cubans and for tourists…..res-04.htm

  25. carlo servia ===a mi me tiene censura en blog en espanol ==============yoani muy buen trabajo pero no entro mas =======

  26. In North America, anyone can call up a pr distributor, and for a fee put out (FACTS) that are distributed globally.
    Yoani doesnot have access to this worldwide communications network.
    Lifting the embargo would mean to Yoani that those of us that feel the pain for Cuban’s that have the means to freely travel to Cuba at once to give a helping hand. Maybe I’m just a pork farmer, a IT worker, run a taxie, teach school, financer, news reporter, political lobbiest or have family ties. The US Goverment has kept this embargo not for the people of Cuba or how they are treated but for political reasons of staying power, US Citizens wants it lifted now.

  27. RENE dice: 1 Febrero 2009 a las 17:28

    carlo servia ===a mi me tiene censura en blog en espanol ==============yoani muy buen trabajo pero no entro mas =======
    Your comments will be stopped only if you use obscene language or your comments are out of the cuban theme or use a non latin alphabet or……as I learned recently, if you try to post more than 1 – 2 links. The question with my “inoperative” links are no responsibility of the blog but of me …… remember that we, the most cuban that have left the country recently and the most cuban inside the island have it hard to use computers…….. the dictatorship is afraid of computers, internet and the information it represents and try in all possibles ways to avoid cuban people to learn how driving computers…….. I shall learn, yes, I will

  28. American dice: 1 Febrero 2009 a las 17:50
    Lifting the embargo would mean to Yoani that those of us that feel the pain for Cuban’s that have the means to freely travel to Cuba at once to give a helping hand.
    Lifting today’s nominal embargo is a good idea that almost all cuban agree with, any way the embargo doesn’t exist as it’s proven in the comment #22.
    The only effective embargo that to day affect the cuban people is the internal embargo that the dictatorship maintain on the cubans. This embargo that hind the cuban people to use its ability, intelligence and laboriousness to create richness……….. in the same way cubans in others countries create richness.
    The cuban doesn’t need any external help it has been proven through the scattered opportunities the dictatorship relaxed the hard regulation over the private initiative. Each time it happen the people self solved all their problems without the government involving. The farmers produced all the people needed, the markets were full with vegetables, meat, eggs, milk, etc. Small industries proliferated everywhere and the vendors found theirs stands full of shoes, cloths, deodorants and all kind articles long time ago vanished from the market.
    But in the same way dictatorship is afraid of information is also afraid of richness, even if this richness is account in thousands and not in millions. Because richness means independence and insubordination and leftist dictatorships needs for surviving the peoples dependence and subordination.
    That’s why dictators need to create poverty in the same way Castro created a poor Cuba and now Chavez try to create a poor Venezuela.
    So Mr American, when you arrive to Havana with your help….. try to convince Castro to lift his own and hard embargo on the cuban people…….good luck!!!!

  29. to scottishsocialist and michel…canadiense you both are so ridiculous. I would love to see both of you live in Cuba as a regular citizen. After a month you both will be selling your asses to purchase your way out of Cuba via raft or some Canadian or European toursit to get you off the island. As far as embargo , there is no embargo, Cuba purchases all kinds of goods from the USA. The embargo is Castro against his own people. Fidel doesnt want for the Americans to lift the whole embargo because he knows that once that happenes he has no more reason to blame the Americans for his downfalt!!!!

  30. To all:
    Our friends Gorki, Hebert, and Renay from Porno Para Ricardo were
    arbitrarily arrested last night in Havana.
    They need all of our solidarity, they need all our help to denounce the
    harassment of the communist goverment of Cuba on these outspoken musicians.
    Please do contact your local newspaper and let them know that Gorki, his
    bass player Hebert, and his drummer Renay were arrested without a
    warrant in Havana, Cuba. That’s state sponsored kidnapping, but a
    communist regime knows no bounds for terror.
    Please join us in denouncing this violation of their human rights.
    Charlie Bravo
    CubaUnderground, virtual bandmate of the lads of Porno Para Ricardo.

  31. quedijiste, vamos a ver. Gracias para el apoyo. Oraciones por Gorki, Hebert, y Renay.

    Sigo leyendo y dando mi apoyo a todos aqui contra los hermanos castro. Tal vez sera mejor que yo escribo en espanol porque es mas probable que los pinche no se que me dejan en paz. risa.

  32. To paraphrase an old slogan, I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy what they play but I’m certainly prepared to stand up for their right to play it. When a regime quakes in fear of pop groups it’s in very severe trouble indeed.
    Here in Britain we’re experiencing the heaviest snowfall in nearly two decades, but things were even worse, yesterday (Sunday) in Madrid. EL PAIS reports that this didn’t diminish a demonstration in the Puerta del Sol under the heading “Cuba: half a century without freedom.” It was attended by regional governor and hate figure for the Castro regime (despite sending the surgical team that operated on Fidel – well, you wouldn’t expect the communist aristocracy to use their own health service, would you?) Esperanza Aguirre and was addressed by exiled poet Zoe Valdes*.
    So you’re not forgotten, Yoani!
    *Sorry, I can’t seem to be able to get the machine to do accents here.

  33. I noticed the socialists are causing a lot of argument in these blogs. It’s normal; most of them sit at the computer all day long living on mom and dad’s money or on their government’s money and fight on the internet all day. In fact, some members of Las FARC from Colombia scammed their way to living in Canada on welfare and are at their computers all day fighting for their bigot hypocritical cause, which is probably why some canadians on here seem to write in bad english.

    You can show a socialist evidence that he is wrong but he will never acknowledge it. Communism has become his religion and Castro/Chavez/etc are his Gods. You can’t even show the truth in front of his face because he is blinded by his Faith… a blind faith in his almighty socialism. This follows the belief that some anthropologists have that humans must have a religion, in fact we evolved to have religion and without one we become insane. Once Christianity, Islam, Judaism, are left behind one must find another Religion, which often is Environmentalism, Socialism, scientology or some other philosophy. These individuals will blindly follow these beliefs in spite of evidence to the contrary or lack of evidence backing up their beliefs and they will try to push or force their ideology on others. They would force what they think is the ideal way of living on others as well, similar to what Muslims in Afghanistan are doing or what Christians used to do in the past. The socialists want Cubans to maintain the faith that life in Cuba is good, which is why they continue to argue on here that life is good in Cuba and it’s the fault of the negligible embargo and the USA that Cubans aren’t better off. They will try to tell Cubans that the USA is evil, due to the fact that the USA is the main location Cuban’s escape to, and also because the USA is the nation on earth with the greatest ability for a person to go from nothing to successful. The difference between Cuba and the USA is enormous, there are Cubans who lived like peasants in Cuba, who came to the USA and became rich and now live better than Castro and they didn’t have to take up weapons and kill thousands of people to do that; all they had to do was risk their lives on a raft to get here, then sacrifice and work hard. So the socialists will flood the forum with insults against the USA, thinking that real Cubans in Cuba read this stuff and might influence them to remain good communists and keep the Faith. But you should not fall for it.

    Micheal candienses is a racist ignorant bigot and I don’t see why people respond to him. It’s best to ignore him.

    I’m from the USA, I wonder what kind of raging insults will be directed at me and my country now.

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