HAVANA, Oct. 14th Exclusive, expensive and accessible only to those who beat the queue, the El Biky Havana candy store is immune to any crisis.Located at number 412 Calle Infanta, between San Lázaro and Concordia, El Biky is part of a gastronomic complex where the formidable showcases, full of cakes and pastries, welcome whoever can pay their price. The candy store, in short, more chic from Central Havana.
“It was always a place for wealthy people,” says Pablo, a customer who attributes the constant supply of products to the relationship of this establishment with the dome of power.
Opened in 2014 with the inelegant label of “non-agricultural cooperative”, four partners – whose name is not known – remodeled an old building in the capital. In a year they had the premises ready, which covers a good part of that block in Infanta. A couple of photographs attest to the “comprehensive repair” where the investors proudly show the change of the dilapidated building turned candy store.
“People come here in cars and motorcycles with private plates, the latest model, who are seen to be rich by the way they are dressed. Foreigners and high-ranking military also arrive”
“Everything is luxurious at El Biky,” says Pablo, “the equipment is new and from important brands, designed for industrial production. Nobody knows how they were imported.” They also have security guards at the gates of the complex, “mature and trained men, very different from the puny boys that they put to watch other places,” he adds.
But the most scandalous thing, says the man, are the prices of the products and the method of payment. “The candy store was always expensive, but after the monetary order, the change has been brutal.” Interestingly, and despite being a State-backed cooperative, El Biky values the freely convertible currency (MLC) according to its price in the informal market (currently 200 pesos for 1 MLC). This irregularity increases suspicions that, behind this company, there are private interests linked to the regime.
So, for a lemon foot that costs 10 MLC, you have to pay 2,000 pesos; a coconut cake of 5.75 MLC reaches 1,150 pesos; for one of chocolate peanut, 1,800. The same rate applies to smaller candies, such as eclair chocolate 0.95 MLC, marquesitas 0.35 cents; and the 1 MLC slices of coconut cake and cupcakes, which are about the same cost as the imported beer they offer.
“They have the nerve to put the equivalence in the same window,” laments Pablo. An eloquent detail about how the value of the currency is manipulated in El Biky is that the payment is made through a telephone transfer application.
“If they used a POS,” says the man, referring to the electronic payment terminal by credit card, “then they would have to charge the MLC according to the State, but that does not suit them.”
From El Biky comes the sustenance of multiple minor confectionery businesses. “A moment ago a man came out with six cakes: now he resells them in his own palate,” he says. In addition, the establishment, where the air conditioning is always at full speed, is the candy store of Havana’s elite.
“People come here in cars and motorcycles with private plates, the latest model, who is seen to be rich by the way they are dressed. Foreigners and high-ranking military also arrive,” he explains. “It’s not a ‘rabble’ queue, like the chicken one, but of the Cuban ‘bourgeoisie’. They sometimes buy in large quantities.”
This opulence contrasts with the precarious diet of the majority of the population, which lives in permanent scarcity and lacks sugar, flour, oil, and many other products to make quality cakes.