Monthly Archives: June 2010

Rice for the Eighth Army

And also it is a gift from God that every man may eat and drink, and enjoy the benefit of all his labor. Ecclesiastes 3:13.

The first theater work I saw in my birthplace, was on an improvised stage in a park. It was a Chinese play interpreted by Cuban actors. The plot unfolds around the harvest, collection and delivery of food to the battle front. I was captivated by the charm and magic of it.

Abandoning their nomadic life, humans added agricultural work to their labors. In order to develop successfully, the crops needed water. Thus, people settled where there was an abundant supply of the precious liquid. That’s why ancient civilizations originated around rivers. Next to the Nile in Egypt, the Ganges in India, and the Yangtze in China flourished the three great human cultures.

Our ancestors discovered the nutritive value of rains and planted them. Through a long process of selection they improved the yield and resistance to pests of oats, wheat, corn, barley, rice and rye, which are known as cereals (Ceres, the Latin goddess of agriculture). According to region of the planet that developed one crop or another. In Asia, widespread planting of rice and in America, corn. Therefore, in anthropological studies, food offers valuable information.

In our country, some foods and ways of preparing them come from Spanish tradition. Much of those who came from the Iberian Peninsula are from regions where Islamic culture predominated for centuries. Later, with the addition of Africans, their nutritional habits were added. The geographic position of the Island, between Europe and South America, made it a place of replenishment, so we have recipes from France, English, North America, Yucatan and the Caribbean enriching our cuisine.

In selecting and carefully preparing what we consume we ensure a double happiness: the enjoyment of eating it and of good health through a balanced diet. The balance is given by an equilateral triangle whose sides are the food: energy, construction-repair, and regulation. Good nutrition is very important, the substances are transformed and converted into a constituent part of our body, hence, we are what we eat.

In our geographic environment cuisine based on corn predominates. However, for centuries rice is the basic food of our society. For many people this cereal is symbolic. Without rice on the table, the rest of the food doesn’t seem nourishing and we are psychologically dissatisfied. Even though we eat enough.

In April comments and expression of growing unease among the population began. They had suspended the free sale of rice. Now, since the beginning of the year, different companies no longer offer their workers lunch, instead they receive 15 pesos a day. Now they have to buy, make and bring what they are going to eat in the middle of the day. As this stipend doesn’t correspond to the prices, it’s very hard to satisfy ones basic dietary needs.

Imagine my surprise when I went to the State Agricultural Market at 27th and A in El Vedado in Havana on Saturday, the 29th, and found they were selling ten pounds of rice per person. Going home, after two hours in line under the hot sun, my wife asked me, “What did you get?” I remembered the title of a play I saw during puberty and answered, “Rice for the Eighth Army.”



May 23 was Pentecost Sunday. On this solemn occasion I went to the Eucharist liturgy in the Church of Santa Rita de Casia, in Playa municipality, Havana City, where the Ladies in White also attended. The celebration has its origins in Judaism. It is the feast of the Jewish people in memory of the day when God gave Moses the Tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai. In turn, the Catholic Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.

It was Moses who led his people away from the slavery of Egypt and the Ten Commandments are the ethical norms which form the foundations of Western civilization.  At the same time, divine manifestation allowed people who spoke different languages to understand each other with the disciples and Jesus himself.

With a white dove, which is associated with peace, the Holy Spirit is represented.  The color white refers to the devotion we give from ourselves to something higher.  That is why when those who are adept or novices join some religions or fraternities, they are assigned to wear that color.

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, there have been individuals who are attributed with a special divine light.  They are considered to act directly under the protection of the Spirit.  They all share the common factor that they are guided by a light to help those who most need it.  With that same symbolism, the Ladies in White demand freedom for their relatives.

Those who knock down the battlements of fear and start reclaiming the space that belongs to them are increasing in number.  Upon conquering the freedom to communicate among each other, and with others who speak different languages and engage in different beliefs, they have displayed the violation of human rights that exist in Cuba.  The world has united to condemn the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo because the news was immediately spread from within the island.  Upon demolishing the stronghold of defenselessness, in an irreversible manner, those who have decided to take control of their own lives from their skin towards their soul have become empowered.  That is why we see the manipulations of the government to not acknowledge the rights of citizens and how they avoid dialogue with their own people.  That is how they intend to delay the necessary transformations required for our society.

Significantly, Yoani Sanchez was received the 2010 Perfil Award this past Saturday, in the category of freedom of expression, which is promoted by the Editorial Section of the Perfil Argentina.  The tribute took place in silence, behind the doors of her apartment.  In the midst of the insomniac process, guards surrounded the building.

The DHL shipments of diplomas, books, and other objects are prohibited by the State.  Invitations to international events, presentations of books, and conferences in prestigious universities, are all prohibited.

For those who have remained detached from the material, Divine Grace grants them a trophy.  In this jubilee, on the eve of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit protects the home of the Major Blogger of Cuba.  The Spirit came to her in the form of a silver dove.  Congratulations!