The Story of The Car

Posted January 12th, 2009 23:38 by Elisabeth

Cuba is a strange country if you’re used to everything-for-sale capitalist economics. Beef, for example, can be sold only by the state. It is forbidden to kill your own cow to sell the meat and penalties for doing so are high. Buying potatoes privately means surreptitiously giving the seller your money and a carrier bag and waiting while he or she goes to where the sack is hidden. You wait outside and, when you’ve got your spuds, depart quickly and discreetly. It is easier in many countries to buy cocaine than it is to buy potatoes in Cuba and the procedure is similar.

Likewise cars. Anyone can buy an old heap but better quality cars are sold only to businesses and foreign residents. For this reason, which I will always regret, I got involved in a very tedious business.

An idiot of the Husband’s acquaintance wanted one of these posh cars. He offered a substantial amount of money to anyone who’d sign the papers in the name of a foreign resident. I was very hungry. I agreed, on the basis that it was legal- I was buying something which I was entitled to buy.

The papers signed, we went home. Pigs came and went, things were fine. Eventually I traveled to Matanzas to open and close a bank account to give the impression that I had money. During this journey, The Idiot managed to lose my luggage and I swore I’d have no more to do with the wholehing. It all went quiet. Pigs came and went, daughter visited from England.

At the start of 2008 all my pigs died from pneumonia. This left me both upset and broke and so, when The Idiot got in touch again to say that he’d managed to bribe some officials into selling him the car, we had to go along or go hungry.

I don’t believe that honest people get rich in Cuba- working a real job is low paid. The government compensates for this by making all necessities either free or cheap, but no-one’s salary allows for luxuries. Bribes are often offered, and often accepted.

Anyway, eventually, after weeks of hellish conditions in my sister-in-law’s awful house, The Idiot found a car he liked, paid me some money for my part and I went home.

Hurricane Ike came and went, taking our roof with it. I got my own house, lovely new pigs and then The Idiot appeared on the scene again. He wanted the car registered to his address to ease the suspicion of the local immigration authorities. He wanted the Husband and I to divorce and for me to pass the ownership to the Husband. This worried me because although it’s legal, it looks suspicious. I wasn’t keen to divorce, but The Idiot threatened to go to the authorities and have me removed from the country if I didn’t. Once again I signed papers I didn’t really want to.

expository essay

All this shows is that, no matter how hard you try to make a fair society, the rich and vain will stop at nothing to get what they want. If all this is ever investigated by the Cuban Transport Ministry, they’re really going to wonder what use the Husband, heavy drinker and non-driver extraordinaire, has for a car…

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