Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Among Fish and Cats

Among Fish and Cats / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Posted on September 16, 2013

The catfish has conquered Cuba. The Communist Party and Youth Wing
newspapers are singing the praises of its soft, white flesh. However…

The forced introduction of catfish to Cuba from Africa and Asia, in the
late twentieth and early twenty-first century, can now be considered an
ecological holocaust. The animals' voracious appetite has wiped out
countless freshwater animals on the island, in addition to non-aquatic

This breed of catfish, otherwise known as Clarias batrachus, or walking
catfish, can weigh dozens of pounds and grow to a monstrous size. They
are scavengers and, thanks to their ability to survive out of water for
an extended period of time, all kinds of objects have been found in
their stomachs: Spark plugs, marbles, coins, stones, plastic, the
remains of vegetation, fish, amphibians, birds, rodents, and sometimes
even feces. They will also devour one another when overcrowding occurs.

Sooner or later the Cuban Ministry of the Fishing Industry will have to
respond to this irreparable idiocy on a national and international
level. In the face of shortages of other sources of protein, the
government has tried to provide the population with cheap meat, but many
still find the texture and flavor of catfish disgusting and, in
practice, even if they don't have any other option, many buy catfish to
feed their pets. (In particular cats, whose numbers were decimated
during the Cuban famine of the 1990s, finally seem happy with the
Revolution's food policy.)

Although Cuba is surrounded by water, and our archipelago has more than
3,500 miles of coastline, the Cuban Fishing Fleet is a mere phantasm
floating across the memory of the Caribbean Sea. Private fishermen came
under suspicion for possibly smuggling people to Miami. Cuba is too
close to the United States, where, paradoxically, catfish is treated as
a delicacy: "God gives a beard to those who don't have a jawbone," is a
common saying on the island, except that in this case the catfish has a

Translated by Alex Higson

From Sampsonia Way Magazine

15 September 2013

Source: "Among Fish and Cats / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo | Translating
Cuba" -

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