Cuba's Just About the Only Place Left On Earth Where Coke Doesn't Sell Soda

Categories: La Habana
castrocap.jpg
No Coke for you!
Among the many cruel side effects of the five-decade old American embargo against Cuba -- economic stagnation, consolidated power for Castro, decaying infrastructure -- there's another oft-ignored tragedy: Cubans are among the only people on earth to whom Coca-Cola isn't officially selling their sugary caffeine-delivery system.

That list just got even smaller this morning, as Coke announced it's reopening operations in Burma. That leaves Fidel and his brother-in-repression, North Korea's Kim Jong-un, as the only Coke-free leaders left on the planet.

That's an incredible fact, if you think about it. From Ayatollah-ruled Iran to the state-sponsored massacres in Syria, from pirate-laden Somalia to Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Coca-Cola is by far the most popular beverage in the world.

Soon, the Burmese people will be guzzling the dark fizz with every meal, too. The nation of 64 million people is moving back toward relations with the rest of the world as its military junta loosens some restrictions on democracy -- most notably by letting opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi free from house arrest to run for office.

Coca-Cola announced this morning it will start selling drinks there for the first time in 60 years as soon as it gets government approval.

That leaves Cuba and North Korea as the only Coke-free holdouts. (Although, as Riptide readers fairly point out, plenty of Coke still unofficially sneaks into Cuba through Mexico and other neighbors; what the Cubans are really missing is official Coke distribution.)    

Sorry, Havana -- it's not really fair company to keep. But until the embargo loosens, you'll have to keep chugging cafecitos.

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9 comments
USA
USA

False. Coke is sold to everyone and cost between $1 to $1.50 a can. Roughly 50% more than the nacional brands of cola, primary TuCola, TropiCola, and FresCola. From my knowledge, its brought in from Mexico. I had it in most all of Havana. Heiniken, Becks, Nestle, Fanta, Redbull...saw those in tons of places too. Imported beer about $2 to 3 , Redbull $3 to 5. My impression of  Habana is that it is rather expensive by latin american standards. Example, taxi from Habana airport to the city is around $25 for everyone. My observation is that most people make a stream of income through a underground economy. That $20 income mention is mealy an allowance as people seem to be hustleing everywhere and making cash. I saw clear social clases in cuba from very rich to poor as well as private owenship of cars, businesses, and homes (not land). My 2 cents.. 

MarshallFelton
MarshallFelton

"Cuba's Just About the Only Place Left On Earth Where Coke Doesn't Sell Soda" -That's good for them teeth. 

Mainline FL
Mainline FL

Hdezcanton is either from a California university, a gay Europeon, or one of the lucky twelve with internet access in Havana. So according to you Cuba is comparable to any latin american country. Travel much amigo? How many supermarket chains are in your neighborhood? Food stores, furniture stores, auto parts, ANYTHING? Tough choices having none huh? Especially for those with desire & ambition to actually produce/work. Getting ahead just by being a talking-head doesn't generally work for the GDP. I always laugh when I read the economic warfare argument as well. Cuba allows the enemies of democracy to point weapons at us but somehow we're supposed to support them. 50 years of reality dude, handed down en la familia just like Lil Kim huh.  And this is what you call a system? Welfare and handouts. That's what we call the projects!

Hdezcanton
Hdezcanton

#1. Obviously no one here has heard of Tropi-Cola or at least Agua con Azucar (which Coke basically is). #2. Why is Coke a good thing? If anything they have been saved from drinking that poison (at least the HFCS kind) which they probably don't get/would'nt make in Cuba anyway. #3. Juan, stop spreading sensationalistic half-truths and misinformation. The average monthly salary is $20 but you fail to take into account heavily subsidized goods and services. Therefore, that $20 would be a "net" income. You also fail to take into account the radically lower cost of living - from housing to electricity. You also treat Cuba as if without Castro it would be on par with the US and that $20 a month is an anomaly reserved only for communist dictatorships, of course ignoring how many developing nations also average about $20 a month salary WITHOUT any kind of subsidized goods or services. Be fair and compare Cuba to a comparable country, and be sure to figure in Cuba being the target of political and economic warfare for over half a century. Please don't pull out the "Cuba had the highest GDP in Latina America in the 50s" and "The Cuban Peso used to equal the US Dollar" tired stale responses. That happened when sugar prices were at an all-time market high, and they have dramatically dropped ever since; and the second argument was during the Depression when the $ was at a low and Cuba enjoyed the brief blessing of being a food exporter. If your third pitch is "Well, Cuba is different than the rest of Latin America", that argument usually melts away as thinly veiled racism. So, enough with the incendiary over-simplifications OK?

Tim Elfrink
Tim Elfrink

Dammit, right you are Sanchez. If they'd just start letting Riptide bloggers into Havana with more regularity, this wouldn't be an issue. 

Tim Elfrink
Tim Elfrink

Fair point, Juan -- I've updated the post to mention that, indeed, there's plenty of black market Coke to be had. My larger point was what a statement the lack of official distribution makes about Cuba's political isolation. When you're the only country other than NK in a category, something crazy's going on.

Sanchez
Sanchez

What you can't buy in Cuba, ironically, is Materva.

Itsallgoode1
Itsallgoode1

Yea, got to agree with Juan, you can buy coke in Cuba, if you have the dollar it costs to buy it. They get around the whole American import thing by getting it imported from Mexico. 

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