Eliseo Garrido: “maintain the land and take care of the livestock” in Cuba | In deep
People know what food means to continue reproducing life. With a full belly you can think, motivate, create. Food is essential, as is what motivates us to continue. Under this premise, some people continue dreaming.
La Juana de Cuba: black, ancient and syncretic
Carlos Eliseo Garrido is one of those who wake up early dreaming of the sustainability of life on his La Valeriana farm about 20 kilometers east of Havana.
"I'm already a little short of 100," says Eliseo, who doesn't know exactly his age but is around 95. He gets up earlier than the sun and says good morning to two caballerias and a half of the earth, at 90 reses and their hopes.
"I'm milking eight cows right now," he says. And although 20 years ago a dog bit his right arm and he was never able to use it, Eliseo ignored the fatality of life, and made a face. He doesn't believe in excuses when it comes to producing.
Eliseo Garrido is part of the Emiliano Montes de Oca credit and services cooperative, one of the forms of non-state management that concentrates almost 85 percent of the milking cows on the Island.
Cuba reached a high level of specialization in livestock farming with the development of even a breed specific to the tropics, large dairy producers.
But the livestock sector today is one of the most depressed in the midst of an acute economic crisis in the country. From 2017 to 2021 alone, total milk production in both the state and non-state sectors fell by around 30 percent.
In the midst of these conditions, Eliseo is one of the ranchers that produces the most milk in the province of Havana.
With an annual production plan of 27,000 liters of milk, this cooperative delivers between 120 and 130 liters daily, mostly to maternity homes, hospitals and day care centers.
When asked how he does it?, he jokingly confesses: “That's no secret of mine.”
¨The blockade (of the United States) is not to blame. What you have to do is take care of the cows and plant food for them.
Eliseo looks around to reaffirm his thesis: “Look, that's a dairy that produced 500-odd liters of milk. Today he doesn't get anything. Down here we have another one, that the owner took out 400 or 500 liters of milk. Today it is a micro dairy. And that other one, if it reaches 100 liters, it is a lot, because the cows were not cared for. That's why there is no milk. But if the pace had been continued, not to let the lands be lost and to take care of the livestock, there would be no shortage of milk.
The history, wisdom, dedication and love that Eliseo transmits to his surroundings has reached his son Félix Garrido (Felo), who assures that everything he knows has been taught to him by his father.
Felo says that he would not change the pure air, the tranquility and the milk from the cows on his farm for anything in the world.
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