Cuban Ingenuity-Condoms in Fishing

Cuban ingenuity shows up everywhere. Cuban fishermen are blowing up a bunches of condoms and using them for fishing floats. The highly subsidized state-supplied condoms are only a penny apiece, whereas fishing floats, or even simple balloons are much more than that, if they can be found.  “It’s efficient and everyone uses it. It’s the ingenuity that Cubans always show in resolving problems without spending a lot of money.”  Says Alex Romero, the 42-year-president of the state-backed Old Havana Federation of Fishermen.

Cuban ingenuity fishing with condoms
Cuban ingenuity fishing with condoms

Read the whole story in the Toronto Sun Weird News reports. It’s another testament to the ingenuity of Cubans.

The headline is weird enough, but it is the back story that is really the complicated part, the “why” of the story. Cubans don’t have money for boats or for fuel. To get their hooks far enough offshore to catch anything big they could fish from inner tubes or rafts made from blocks of Styrofoam, but neither is very safe. The other option is “balloon” fishing as they call it, but condoms instead of balloons. The big floats and shifting tides can pull the bait out into the currents where big fish are and the fishermen can stay safely onshore.

Their next conundrum is what to do with the catch. They can feed their family with a small catch, but if they are lucky enough to catch something big they would be much better off selling it on the black market. A 30 pound fish can easily fetch $30. Selling this one big fish would be equivalent to a month’s wages. This would be hard to turn down. However, selling a fish without a proper license is illegal. So, trying to support the family can get you into trouble with the state.

This is always the Cuban conundrum, obeying all the laws and going hungry on your state pay, or find something do to or sell on the side to illegally earn enough to care for your family.

Note: I think two of the most common verbs in Cuba are resolver (to resolve) and conseguir (to get, obtain). Cubans can’t just go out and buy something, either it can’t be found or is not affordable. Cubans just have to find a way to get it without buying it, or another way around the problem.
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