The informal market is experiencing sharply rising prices these days. An egg now costs the high price of four Cuban pesos, one-third the average wage for a day’s labor. But the pockets of the buyers have not been the hardest hit; for those who illegally sell this product, conviction can lead to two years in prison. This measure seeks to eliminate the swindles of these sellers, after the carnage in the poultry farms caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Reckless traders in the black market are processed in summary trials as a lesson to those who illegally market food, construction materials or medicines.
Our police—long-trained in detecting beef, cheese, shrimp and powdered milk—now also track down eggs. The most immediate effect of these new raids is the disappearance of certain products that used to come to us only through vendors knocking on our doors. These days, chanting “Eeee-eeeggs” may be more dangerous than chanting anti-government slogans. OK, let’s not exaggerate, opinion has always been punished more.
The new wave against the informal market has helped us to resolve the riddle, “Which came first?” We now know that the egg was first, then they arrested those who sold home-made sweets, later they prosecuted those who were protesting the price increase for fuel, and finally they punished those who reported the scarcity of products in the agricultural markets. When it’s the turn of those who traffic in chicken, the prison term will exceed the length of a human life.