Cubans face shortages as basic items rationed

World Today

In Cuba, long lines form outside shops for just about everything, following a rationing system to deal with shortages. Basic foods and hygiene items are now scarce.

CGTN’s Luis Chirino takes a look at the current economic and food crisis facing Cubans.

Tahili Diaz is a young mother who, like many Cubans, is facing the current rationing of consumer goods. After queuing for hours, she was able to purchase frozen chicken rations.

The young mother supports the new government measures although rationing means less to buy and standing in long lines to get what is available.

“I’m okay with the rationing because somehow every one and particularly those of us who have kids or senior citizens with us have equitable access to the products,” said Diaz.

But for Tahili and many other Cubans, the situation raises concerns and uncertainty: “I’m concerned about how long this rationing process and the shortage of products will last.”

On May 10, Cuban authorities announced the rationing of staple foods in all consumer good distribution centers and shops amid shortages across the island. The government will control the ration sales of hygiene products and staple items like chicken, a commodity which U.S. producers can export to Cuba under a special license and very specific conditions.

“Today we depend on imports from the U.S., and we have been forced to find alternatives to secure such products in our markets,” said Cuba’s Domestic Trade Minister Betsy Diaz. “We have kept on our mission to fracture all measures that the U.S. government imposes on us, and we are looking at priorities”

For economist Esteban Morales, the U.S. embargo against Cuba is only partly to blame for Cuba’s economic difficulties.

“The U.S. blockade has been there for 60 years, and Trump tries to strengthen it to make it more difficult for us. However, there are issues we can address by ourselves which are not connected to the U.S. blockade but related to economic policy actions we should take to achieve larger economic growth,” Morales said.

Authorities insist, however, that this is a temporary situation which requires initiatives to boost local food production and new market sources.

Morales also said a national effort is needed to achieve economic improvement on the island:

“In order to improve our economic performance we need to bring all state, cooperative and private producers together, all property forms to work as a system, if we want to increase our output of goods.”