In establishing the historical foundation for this book's argument, this chapter presents an overview of citizen-consumer discontent as it has developed in Cuba, focusing particularly on events since the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989 and through what is known as the Special Period to the present. It then defines the late-socialist period within a global context. It emphasizes the way that information about contemporary difficulties is repeatedly circulated by Cubans in local discourse, paying particular attention to those political and economic details that most buffet urban and suburban citizen-consumers. Throughout the book, the phrase “ordinary Cubans” refers most generally to those Cubans without leadership roles in the Communist Party or a mass organization, and without special status as elite performing artists, musicians, entertainers, or athletes.
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