Havana - The Cuban government ordered all dollar stores in the island country to close, effective immediately. Besides being unexpected, this news brought mixed reactions from many of Cuba's working class citizens or as they are referred to in the United States, welfare recipients.
The real story of the afternoon may not turn out to be the closing of the two hundred plus nick-knack stores but that there was in fact that many to be closed. "Dollar stores?" asked Banes resident Ivan Guervera, "no, no we have only pesos."
Many patrons that did frequent the stores view the closing as a mixed blessing of sorts. "Every day I go into the store and every day a different exchange rate," said Hector Diaz. "It is very hard to do the math all of the time, I had to watch CNBC in the mornings just to buy beans."
Cuba's official statement about the closings was steeped in rhetoric fiercely decrying the Bush Administration's recent effort to strengthen the embargo against the state run by Dictator Fidel Castro.
"The Office of Bombastic Claims in Havana said that this was a direct result of the ‘brutal and cruel' positions taken by the American government, but we here all know that this development had been years in the making," read a statement on the website of one anti-Castro group. The group contends that "this was Castro's baby, he loves buying cheap wicker baskets and slightly dented but still edible canned goods. This was simply an excuse to yet again cover his ass."
"It is a running joke around here," said a construction worker that did not want to be identified. "‘How many weekly wages does it take to shop in Castro's Dollar Stores? - Give me a job and we'll see.'" (Editor's Note: Clearly some comic minutia was lost in the translation.)
Realistically the victims will again be the people of Cuba. With the stores' suspended operations most peasants must again turn to farming the land for food. What they cannot grow they must now barter for. This afternoon, only a few scant hours after the close of the stores a "good eating chicken" was trading at five cigars and a spot on the next half inflated raft to Miami.