Rebeca Monzo, Translator: BW
It isn't a title of a movie or a novel. It is a
bar/restaurant/cafeteria, recently opened in the Nuevo Vedado neighborhood.
They opened hardly 15 days ago and all day it is completely full. The
hook? Their prices and the quality of their offerings. With this new
example of private initiative, it is demonstrated that, when the
businesses have owners and they have an open mind, things work. Those
young investors began working some months ago, to convert an immense
parking lot, with the enthusiasm that gives them a feeling of being part
of something, and they were transforming something little by little into
a pleasant business, with great intentions, but comfortable, with good
taste, good cooking and magnificent offerings.
Given that this is a neighborhood that is characterized by its large
number of private home rentals, from 8 in the morning they start
offering exquisite breakfasts, at modest prices, if they compare with
the competition, and moreover, if you take into account that businesses
where one can get supplies at wholesale prices still don't exist in our
country. New entrepreneurs are forced to acquire supplies in stores and
farmers markets, where the rest of the population buys, something that
keeps them from lowering their prices even more.
The success of this new establishment has obligated the competitors to
improve their offerings and lower their prices a little, but even so,
they maintain the leadership in this type of business. Other restaurants
exist in the neighborhood, but more luxurious with an international menu
of high-class cooking, whose prices are too high for the meager
pocketbooks of Cubans. That is why those are frequented mostly by
Up until now, La Rosa Negra is the only place where they offer various
types of coffee at 15 cents CUC* per cup. The most expensive dishes,
which are the shrimp and filet of veal, cost less than 5 CUC. The
drinks are prepared individually, a difference from the state
establishments, according the clients request and almost all cost only
95 cents CUC, including the famous piña colada. Here the price of a
tasty dish of "Ropa Vieja" (a Cuban dish of shredded beef over tortillas
over rice) with two sides to choose from is 3.95 CUC, and it tastes like
what our grandmothers made.
Those young people are demonstrating what the initiative and drive of
the citizen — crushed and hibernated for more than a half century — can
accomplish; demonstrating now in a new awakening, that if it isn't all
as free as one would desire, at least they're trying; that the only
thing that truly functions is the law of supply and demand, also
creating new jobs, to give the possibility to others to show their
qualities and aptitudes, getting a better paid employment.
And, dear readers, let it be clearly understood, they didn't give me a
commission for this. It is just that these new winds of private
initiative give me satisfaction and pride.
*Translator's note: Cuba has two currencies. The CUC, or Cuban
Convertible Peso (which is NOT convertible on the world currency
market), which is worth roughly one U.S. dollar, and the Cuban Peso, or
"National Money" which is worth about 4-5 cents U.S. Salaries (rarely
exceeding $20 U.S. a month) are paid in the latter, while many goods are
only available in hard currency stores for the former.
Translated by: BW
December 13 2011