|Lines at Coppelia Ice Cream, Havana, Cuba 2004|
This is part two of my history of Coppelia’s ice cream emporium in Havana, Cuba. Like professional baseball in Cuba, Coppelia does not serve as money making endeavor for the revolutionary government in Cuba. Instead I argue that it serves as an outlet from the stress and frustration associated with the low salaries, high taxes on entrepreneurs, limited food options, and the political repression suffered in socialist country in which economic crisis has led to increasing numbers of government job layoffs. Related to these problems are the hardships that the U. S. embargo has caused since its inception in 1962, just two years, by the way, after the government run Coppelia opened. In Havana Coppelia helps ease the frustration of urban life in a very hot tropical city full of foreign tourist flush with money. Perhaps the most important element of Coppelia is it provides a shared experience and sense of belonging for Havana residents in a tourist driven parallel economy in Havana in which much better off foreigners have access to better food and more food options than Cuban nationals. After the waiting between 30 and 45 minutes on line, Cubans can purchase 4 scoops of, vanilla, chocolate, coconut, or mango ice-cream with chocolate sauce for just 20 cents at Coppelia. Foreigners pay about $5.50 for the same ice cream in the section of the park that caters to them. Thus the government run Coppelia feeds the people ice cream and perhaps make them forget the frustrations they experience under Cuban socialism and the U. S. embargo for a brief period.