“There is no bread, milk or electricity, it is very hard”: this is what life is like in Cuba, with food shortages and daily 10-hour blackouts

Several people tell how they live amid frequent blackouts, in a simple shanty town next to the city of Santa Marta in Matanzas province (EFE/Yander Zamora).

In the midst of the darkness of his house, katherineThe 35-year-old reviews the problems of his daily life, which are similar to the problems of millions of people in Cuba. severe economic crisis The country is suffering and there have been protests in many cities in recent days.

,There is neither bread nor milk. we don’t have power, Children don’t go to school because they don’t get breakfast, and when they go, they walk three kilometers because there is no transport…”, he says efe while her husband was by her side the winner49, just nods with a lost look.

He says he has already asked his job once to let him go home because, amid such heat, power cuts lasting more than ten hours, and other hardships, it is a challenge to stay on one’s feet. : “I’m leaving because I’m sleepy, I’m tired (…) It’s hard, very hard,

this couple stays pure and cleanAn ordinary shanty town next to the city of Santa Marta (Western Cuba).

Young couple Gilde (right) and Arianellis (right) embrace inside their home in the Santa Marta neighborhood in Matanzas province on March 12, 2024 (EFE/Yander Zamora).

efe He spoke to them there a week ago – and in four other municipalities on the island – demonstrations took place this Sunday, some involving hundreds of people, in which he chanted “Food and Present!” but also “Freedom!” Also raised slogans. and “Motherland and life!”

For Catalina and Victor, for their neighbors, Life has become very difficult in the last three years,

The pandemic, sanctions, and errors in national economic and monetary policy have exacerbated the structural problems of the Cuban system and generated shortages and blackouts of basic goods (food, medicine, fuel), as well as inflation, mass migration, and social unrest. Is.

In the darkness of her home, Catalina, 35, reviews the problems of her daily life (EFE/Yander Zamora)

Following the collapse of its agriculture, Cuba imports 80% of the food it consumes. And the shortage of foreign exchange from the state has made this task more complicated.

Supplies in bodegas (state stores of subsidized basic goods), where you can only buy what matches the supply book (ration card), are decreasing and Delays in delivery of rice, sugar or coffee are frequent,

On the other hand, in the nascent private sector, the prices of (imported) products exceed the possibilities of the vast majority of Cubans, such as Catalina and Victor.

The government has accepted this during March There will be problems in compliance with bread distribution for the notebook and has asked for help from the World Food Program (WFP) to be able to continue distribution Milk Subsidy for minors.

Young couple Gilde (D) and Arianellis (I) look out the window of their home (EFE/Yander Zamora)

To change the direction of the economy – still below 2019 levels and with its fifth consecutive year expected to sign a large fiscal deficit – the executive is implementing a critical adjustment plan,

Program includes 400% increase in gasolinewhich came into force on March 1, and Increase in services like water and electricity, It predicts more difficulties and more inflation for the average citizen,

Formal market prices were 32.08% in February after being off by more than 30% in 2023 and 2022 and more than 77% in 2021. The growth in the informal market is even greater and has greatly reduced the purchasing power of meager state salaries.

The blackouts, which last more than ten hours a day in many provinces, are an ordeal for many people and the trigger – beyond other deeper causes – of protests like last Sunday (EFE/Yander Zamora).

These problems also include Inability of the power system to produce the energy the country needs, due to plant breakdowns and fuel shortages. From February onwards, 20 to 45% of the island goes into darkness every day at times of peak demand.

Blackouts lasting more than ten hours a day in many provinces are an ordeal for many people and – beyond other deeper reasons – the trigger of protests like last Sunday.

A man poses for EFE outside his house during a blackout in an ordinary neighborhood next to the city of Santa Marta (EFE/Yander Zamora)

Sitting in front of his house, behind a narrow hallway, Felipe Miranda57-year-old resident of Santa Marta complains efe The annoyance caused by power shortages is even greater because, moreover, blackouts are unpredictable.

And that makes the difference between being able to cook a meal for the day – many ordinary homes have electric kitchens – or going hungry. “It’s about running and doing it when you have the chance,” he says.

Already at night, after a blackout of more than 10 hours, Catalina is struck by the cause in children like herself: “We adults can manage as best we can, but what about the children? It’s difficult”.


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