Apartheid en Cuba
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    Servility in Cuba to Foreign Currency

    Servility in Cuba to Foreign Currency
    December 17, 2011
    Dariela Aquique

    HAVANA TIMES, Dec 17 — How ironic it is for them to go around
    proclaiming here in Cuba: "Striving to achieve excellence in
    service and customer attention!"

    This, among many others, is one of the inventions you have to listen to
    daily in the iniquitous marketing attempts by our media to feign the
    friendly treatment and quality that people deserve.

    In the heart of Santiago de Cuba, at the busy corner of Aguilera and
    Calvary, is the La Isabelica café. Many people go there given its
    centric location, and it was there where I witnessed something that
    could only be described as servility to hard currency.

    I went in for some cigarettes — a place that's usually always packed,
    even with customers standing in line waiting for tables — but it was
    deserted. There was only one single table occupied by two tourists, who
    were quietly sipping their coffee.

    But, honestly, I didn't give the matter any importance because I was in
    a hurry and had only gone in to satisfy my bad smoking habit.

    But right behind me, a young man sat down at a table and asked the
    clerk, "One coffee, please."

    The clerk — with a somewhat upset voice — replied: "We're not serving
    because there's no water."

    To that the young guy replied, "But those foreigners are drinking coffee."

    Almost sarcastically and in a conclusive manner, she responded, "But
    that coffee is sold in hard currency, sonny."

    I was almost at the door when the young man looked at me shocked,
    shrugged his shoulders and thought aloud, "So there's water for coffee
    in hard currency but not for coffee in national currency?"

    I didn't have much time to discuss the issue with him; I only commented
    that it wasn't unusual to get a response like that.

    By virtue of having been mistreated for so long, you end up assuming
    that things as ridiculous as these are to be expected in the lives of
    any of us who pay in local currency.

    If the coffee servers have no water to provide the service, they won't
    make alternative efforts to fill their pots. It's not their business so
    they don't care who gets the urge to drink coffee.

    On the other hand, they're savvy enough to always maintain a "little
    reserve" of the precious liquid for tourists who come in anxious for the
    black nectar.

    They are people who will leave tips for the waiters, who can use the
    money to buy needed items for their homes from the hard currency store,
    which doesn't accept our national currency.

    Therefore the waiters and clerks don't go to a lot of trouble for
    customers who don't benefit them. If one has to be helpful and
    serviceable — sorry, I meant to say humble and servile — it has to be
    for hard currency.



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