Dissident: Lots of things are forbidden in Cuba: unfettered Internet access, leaving the country without authorization, and free protest, just to mention a few. Some of these are par for the course in a totalitarian state, but others are bewildering. Take, for example, Cuba’s criminalization of beef.
Known as “red gold,” beef is one of the hottest underground commodities in Cuba. When I was living in Havana, one of my neighbors told me, “Carrying around beef is worse than carrying around cocaine. You can spend years in jail if you get caught.” The reality of the situation is that in Cuba, even if you have your own cattle, it is against the law to eat them or even sell them. Cattle are a de facto state monopoly: an individual proprietor of a cow can only milk it, not slaughter it. To buy or sell a cow, he needs the state’s permission.