Thursday, March 01, 2007

Remember the rice cookers?

Those of you with long memories will recall that about two years ago Fidel Castro launched his latest grand plan, the so-called Energy Revolution.

It came about following the total meltdown (no pun intended) of Cuba’s aging electricity grid which had last been upgraded in … well, in 1958.

But in typical fashion, Castro didn’t blame the problem on years of neglect.

Instead, he blamed Cuban housewives.

During a television speech that lasted over five hours, the dictator claimed that housewives were wasting electricity at home by using old and outdated equipment in their kitchens.

And to solve the problem, Castro announced that the regime would buy thousands of supposedly energy-efficient rice cookers, pressure cookers and mini-stoves from his new friends, the Chinese.

These would then be on-sold to Cuban families at “subsidised” prices – whether they liked it or not.

For good measure, he even gave a cringingly condescending demonstration on national television showing Cubans how to handle the new, miracle appliances - you know, because Castro thinks Cubans are too dumb to be able to use the appliances without his help.

Well, there are indications now that the business with the energy-efficient rice cookers and pressure cookers is not going all that well.

According to an article in Juventud Rebelde, the official newspaper of the Union of Communist Youth, many of the appliances are ending up in repair shops, which are owned by the State.

And of course, it’s the fault of Cuban housewives. Again.

Under the headline, “We should look after our Energy Revolution equipment”, the paper takes them to task for failing to read the instructions, for misusing the appliances and even for not cleaning the inside properly.

The paper then lists numerous examples where it claims the rice cookers and pressure cookers have been used incorrectly by their owners, warning about the escalating costs of repairing the appliances.

Of course, there is no indication in the article that perhaps the appliances themselves are to blame - perhaps they don't work as intended?

You can read the report here, in Spanish.


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