The Hollow Man

The latest episode of Trump against Cuba is almost funny. After more than 140 sanctions since 2017, with almost nothing more than snatching the Cubans and not fulfilling the promise to discipline the communist island, he says goodbye to the White House with the ridiculous act of blacklisting the company he markets Cubita coffee.

Has there ever been a leader in history where the discrepancy between the global reach of his power and the ridiculousness of his person has been more pathetic?

Maybe some Roman emperor. Nero, for example, who, in addition to being a despot, macho and arsonist, had his mother, Agripina, murdered, seems to have poisoned his stepbrother, Británico, executed his first wife, Claudia, and kicked his second, Poppea. , in full pregnancy. But he played the lyre, and in his taste for music he surpassed Trump, apart from the fact that it would not have occurred to him to decree the fire of Rome and, at the same time, prohibit the circulation of vinegar, a drink that mixed with honey was so popular in the first century like coffee now.

We Cubans are so fed up with Trump that the echo of what he does in these last weeks of his presidency reaches us muffled, already hovering on the slope of indifference. After having cut off remittances, the trips of the Americans and the oil tankers, after the persecution of companies from third countries and the billion-dollar fines to the banks that operated with Cuba, almost nobody has given importance to this occurrence against the coffee distributor. And those who found out, put the anecdote at the end of the long line of failures of the gringo Nero.

Here everyday life coexists with other sounds. On January 1, the convertible peso (CUC) goes out of circulation and Cuba will begin its process of monetary unification, which has taken seven years to materialize. There will be only one official currency, the Cuban peso (CUP), with a conversion rate of 24 pesos to the dollar, which has left the forecasts of a severe devaluation of the national currency badly off. The so-called “Ordinance Task” is in turn accompanied by a reform of salaries, pensions and subsidies for the most vulnerable people.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel acknowledged that the end of the double currency will not be “the magic solution to all the problems” of the economy, but “will allow for a more solid advance”, in a context marked by the international economic crisis, the Covid-19 and the effects of the United States blockade.

At this point, those who strive to ignore the unilateral sanctions of the powerful neighbor against the island and its open and covert operations, give the exclusive of the Cuban economic drama to the bureaucracy and government inefficiency, while a capitalist of back and forth as Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Columbia University, recalled Tuesday that “medical and humanitarian aid is not denied to a population due to political disagreements, even in war.” (By the way, former Bush administration Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez reacted instantly to Chovanec’s tweet: “This is what we’ve done to Cuba for 60 years! It’s time for a policy change.”)

Stock-outs and uncertainty have triggered queues and prices on the black market, as the government tackles speculation and hoarders, and acknowledges the unpopularity of currency-only stores, a move that attempts to reorient the economy. internal the money that trickled out of the country. Juggling is made so that families receive their unalterable basic food basket, while the authorities repeatedly assure that “no one will be left homeless.”

But the hardest year that Cubans have lived in a long time ends with formidable news: “Sovereign 02”, the national candidate for the Covid 19 vaccine, has already begun phase two of clinical trials and is the first drug of its type in Latin America to advance to that stage. Of the more than 200 vaccine projects that are managed in the world, “Sovereign” is the 30th of 14 countries that have received authorization from the corresponding regulatory entity to advance to trials with human beings.

In the midst of all this, imagine the drama of those who try to interpret the last hours of American international politics under Trump and discover that Kave Coffee received the full attention of the president in the final agony of his term, for the sin of selling. Cubita coffee. It is an insult even to the memory of Nero. Remember the final litany of TS Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”: “This is how the world ends / This is how the world ends / This is how the world ends / Not with a bang but with a groan.”

(By Rosa Miriam Elizalde, Taken from La Jornada)