Walking down Columbus Street, a straight street that runs from the bottom of the Cemetery of the same name, my son praised the grace of the buildings found at the beginning of the street, and with the implacable logic of his inquiring mind asked me why the ones on Columbus itself were so ugly, but higher up, at the entrance to the La Dionisia neighborhood. They belong to different eras, I said, without knowing why some were beautiful and others were not, because the era has nothing to do with the design, and it’s being low cost influences it but does not determine it. Ask the architects in the family who know more than I do on the subject. But he forgot his original question when I told him the buildings he liked had been constructed with money from the lottery. And that, it was legal? INAV were its initials (National Institute of Saving and Housing). I had to explain to him how the lottery worked and the social benefit reported.  That brought new questions:

– If it was a good thing, why did they end it. And why do people keep on playing?

How to explain to him that the lottery was prohibited to avoid a few winners becoming rich and the government stopped setting aside a lot of money to build houses; how to explain to him that the game is very popular even though it is proscribed; how to explain to him that today the money flows in the game without a single cent going to social projects and those who win are rich like in all eras and richest of all are the ones who run the lottery, the banker, and the one who keeps the lists.

No one I know has become rich playing. But the game gives them something lacking in Cuba, that often helps them to live without money: a dream.


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