Friday, August 13, 2004

CASTRO LIVESTOCK is Cuba's laughingstock, writes Carlos Alberto Muntaner (free reg. req.):
Bravo. Fidel Castro now has the dwarf cow for which he has struggled so long. A few days ago, Cuban news agencies told the story of a happy peasant who had managed to raise a new and adorable breed of domesticated cows barely 28 inches tall, capable of giving milk to a family trained by socialism into the healthy habit of eating little.

The creature will provide anywhere from 6.4 to 7.4 quarts of milk a day, and it will be possible to milk her with one hand and applaud with the other, a trick that's always healthy in that type of regime. After the cow goes dry, it can be conveniently consumed, since the animal is small and has an atrophied pituitary -- hence its size -- but is otherwise delicious. It is even estimated that the cow's skin can be used by the family -- which I presume is named Crusoe -- to make two pairs of shoes and a bongo to cheer up the Sunday get-togethers.

It has been a long time since Castro made the brave decision to remake cows. At the start of the revolution, he attempted to create a breed of giant cows that could provide both milk and meat. He himself conducted the experiment on the roof of one of his houses in central Havana, an anecdote that Gabriel García Márquez incorporated, in disguise, into The Autumn of the Patriarch, one of his better novels.

It was a disaster. Castro soon discovered that if he killed the cow he lost the milk. Later, he found out that cows specialize: Some give good, abundant milk; others are an ample source of meat. The breed he engineered, in the best Marxist-Leninist tradition, barely gave milk and barely provided meat. It was a mess and, as such, was abandoned.
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