Thursday, August 27, 2009

A shortage of ideas at the Miami Herald

Click on the homepage of the Miami Herald today and take a look at the box that lists the most popular stories.

Coming in at number 5 is a story about a toilet paper shortage in Cuba.

The story first appeared on the Herald's web site last night.

(Reuters reported this story back on Aug. 7 which Miami New Times duly noted a few days later.)

Among the story's "revelations:" when toilet paper runs short, Cubans use "day-old copies of the Communist party's newspaper Granma."

When I read it my first thought was, "how much more deprivation can the Cuban people endure? Thank you Juan Tamayo for opening my eyes to yet another indignity forced upon the Cuban people by the ruthless, dictatorial Castro brothers."

And then I started digging.
  • Miami Herald, December 21, 1987, CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS Herald Staff Writer

    "Let's put it this way," said Tulio Quirantes, whose father and uncles own seven Ortopedia Quirantes supply stores. "I have relatives in Cuba and when we write to them, we write with very big letters. Because after they finish reading the letters, we want them to be able to use them as toilet paper."

  • Miami Herald, April 21, 1991, LIZETTE ALVAREZ Herald Staff Writer

    "Most newly arrived Cubans still lambaste the country's 32- year-old system of repression. But widespread shortages of food, fuel, clothing and toiletries are the main culprits forcing them out.
    "They tell of crushing wild herbs to use as soap, using the official Communist party newspaper Granma as toilet paper, and spending the little money they earn to buy stolen clothing and food on the black market."

  • Liz Balamseda writing a story on gossip in Miami beauty parlors in Tropic, June 1991

    "It is here, between the mirrored walls, amid the hair dryers and curling irons and wafts of acetone, that the regulars catch up on the details of daily life in Cuba . They discuss the food shortages and lack of toilet paper while America gives them French manicures. "

  • Miami Herald, June 17, 1991, MIMI WHITEFIELD Herald Staff Writer

    "Food isn't the only thing that's in short supply. Among the most coveted and scarce items are soap, laundry detergent and toilet paper (some people buy the newspapers mainly to use as toilet paper)."

  • Miami Herald, March 10, 1993, PETER SLEVIN Herald Staff Writer

    "Buses come late, maybe not at all. Office and school cafeterias shut down. Shops are short of shoes, meat, eggs, milk, soap, writing paper, toilet paper, tampons."
  • One day, perhaps soon, the Cuban people will be freed from the yoke of Communist tyranny and they'll be able to get all the toilet paper they could ever hope for.

    And maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when story ideas will no longer be in short supply at the Miami Herald.

    One can only hope.


    1. Long lines for toilet paper is time-worn, shorthand way of conveying the harshness of communist drudgery as opposed to the bright shiny consumer world of toilet paper-filled capitalism.

      Consider that it was used as a scene-setting moment in Moscow on the Hudson more than 25 years ago and you get a feel for how long this device has been around.

      (And don't tell anyone, but there are poor people here in America who also can't afford toilet paper).

    2. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but don't some people here in South Florida use cardboard for blankets?


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