14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 18 January 2021 — Antonio’s face, after walking through several streets of Centro Habana this Sunday looking for bread without success, sums up his fatigue and disappointment. “What is happening is terrible,” he laments. “I don’t know if there is no flour or no oil, but the truth is that bread is missing from the map.”
The difficulties in buying this staple food have been multiplying in recent months. At the beginning of January, people in Havana reported that there was no bread in any non-State establishment for that sells unrationed bread, and that even in the private ones, where sold for almost twice the price, it was in short supply. A situation that occurred last October was repeated.
Now, not at 30 pesos, nor at 40 nor even at 50 for a package of rolls: there simply isn’t any bread. Antonio had received news that on Zanja Street they were selling a bag of eight rolls for 50 pesos. “I didn’t want to go there because on the corner of my house I always buy it cheaper, at 40 or 45 pesos, sometimes at 30,” the young man explains, referring to a paladar — a private restaurant — where they have a bread sales counter. “And it turns out that when I arrived there wasn’t any!”
The bread, Antonio continues, is barely enough to be displayed on the counter: the neighbors are “chasing the car” that brings the bread, a Lada car filled to the roof, and as soon as it arrives, “the line forms and in three minutes it’s over.”
In the bakeries where the state sells un-rationed bread, the situation has not improved: “In the Carlos III [shopping center] you have to line up so that you can spend hours,” says another resident of Centro Habana. “I send the kid to buy bread and sometimes he gets back at nine o’clock at night without it because after waiting in line there isn’t enough,” he complains.
Other neighborhoods, such as Nuevo Vedado, don’t have better luck. Both in private bakeries and in state bakeries, the shelves are empty most of the time. “The only thing in private bakeries is cookies and sweets, but no bread,” says a resident on Panorama Street. “In the state bakery, to buy the bread with the ration book, the line is constant; they put out the bread, a very limited amount for a very limited time, so it’s gone right away.”
The reason for the shortage of such a basic product changes depending on who you ask. Private sellers say demand has skyrocketed and that where the product used to last on the shelves for a full day, it now sells out in an hour. State employees insist that in the bakeries that sell rationed bread “flour, fat and sugar are scarce.” On this subject, the Government is silent.
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