Fareed Zakaria: No toilet paper in Cuba

Fareed ZakariaOn August 16, 2009, Fareed Zakaria showcased Cuba's toilet paper crisis during his "What in the world?" segment on his Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday program. Before I left Cuba I well remember when toilet paper stopped being the soft paper we were used to and became something closer to that of a paper bag consistency. Not pleasant to use. Now, years later, we hear that even low quality toilet paper may join the list of scarce items on the island.

In the following video clip, Zakaria tells us that, "the government has warned its citizens in recent days that they are facing a toilet paper shortage...that may last until the end of the year."

It's not as if Cuba had an abundance of toilet paper to begin with. Our family friends, when they travel to Cuba, take their own toilet paper with them...and often have it taken away by Cuban custom officers once they land on the island. For the government to make an announcement that there is going to be shortage of toilet paper just means there will be little or no toilet paper to be had.

Cubans, as Zakaria mentions in the video clip above, are saying this shortage has to do with the global economic crisis. But have you heard of toilet paper shortages in other countries of the world, all of which are also going through hard economic crisis? I agree with Zakaria when he says this latest in a long list of items in short supply in Cuba has to do with Cuba's penchant for hanging on to communism as its form of government. I've transcribed below the 2nd part of Zakaria's comments:

"Just two weeks ago, Raul Castro vowed yet again to keep communism alive in Cuba, to make sure capitalism doesn't return. In a world of flux, I suppose it is comforting to know that some things stay the same. Cuba's disastrous economy would be a joke were it not for the poverty it has perpetuated among millions of Cubans. The whole country is stagnating. Fifty percent of its arable fields are going unfarmed. First and second year college students now work one month out of the year in agriculture. Its insane farm policies lead to frequent shortages of fruit, vegetables and other basic food needs, shortages even more serious than toilet paper. And all those programs that held up for years as successes of the communist revolution, free education for all through college, universal health care, well Raul Castro just announced they're going to have to make cuts in all of these. Meawhile the average Cuban still earns the equivalent of less than $20 per month. Now, capitalism has its problems as we have all seen, but at least we are not running out of toilet paper."
Hasta cuando, Dios mio, how much longer, Dear God, until Cuba once more not only has enough toilet paper, and food, and medicine but also for its citizens to have freedoms we take for granted here in the USA... freedom to be and to think and to dream and to follow our hearts into a future of our own choosing.

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