As President Obama and entourage step foot in Cuba, readers might be interested in a new book out by a former Castro security guard. Jaun Reinaldo Sanchez has written The Double Life of Fidel Castro, in which he details the palaces, yachts, and multitude of servants Mr. Castro enjoys. In a summary of Mr. Sanchez’s book the British Daily Mail writes, “Castro the commie hypocrite who lives like a billionaire: He’s posed as a man of the people. But a new book reveals Cuba’s leader has led a life of pampered hedonism and a fortune as big as the Queen’s.”
And what about Cuba’s ordinary people, asks Francis Menton in his Manhattan Contrarian. Cuba does not publish any usable statistics, but the Guardian gives a good rundown of how life is lived under Castro’s ration system.
Every Cuban family registers with a local supply store, where they can use a libreta or ration book. This typically provides about 10kg (22lb) of rice, 6kg of white sugar, 2kg of brown sugar, 250 millilitres (1 cup) of cooking oil, five eggs and a packet of coffee per person per month, along with 2kg of meat (usually chicken) every 10 days, a bun every day and a bag of salt every three months. Milk is provided for pregnant women and children under seven years of age. The basic libreta products are guaranteed, but they are not enough – so people often have to travel to several places on several different days to make up the shortfall.