A Blackout Frustrates Dozens of Customers in a Foreign Currency Store in Havana

Supermarket at 3rd and 70th, in Miramar, Havana, during a blackout. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 29 August 2022 — Scheduled power cuts don’t bypass even profitable businesses. This Monday, it happened in the 3rd and 70th Shopping Center, in Miramar, Havana, three times. After the power went out the first time, the center turned on a generator, but it quickly stopped working. The second time, they used another generator, which also went out quickly. The third time the blackout arrived, there was no auxiliary equipment to turn on, and the store was completely in the dark.

The explanations of the employees didn’t alleviate the displeasure of the customers. “With all the dollars they extort from people here, you’d think they’d have power,” a woman protested aloud. Meanwhile, workers shouted to the customers to go to the cash registers next to the windows, where there would be natural light.

“You can’t record here, please, you damage the image of the shop,” a cashier told a young man who took out his cell phone to photograph the corridors in the dark. “Same with the image here; it’s not very good,” the boy replied.

The 3rd and 70th supermarket is one of the largest in the city that sells its products in foreign currency. It was also one of the first stores to be dollarized when there was economic flexibility in the 90s, and nearby is an abundance of embassies, the houses of diplomats and the homes of more affluent families, so it’s considered a business with a somewhat exclusive clientele.

But not even this location and the uniqueness of its consumers has saved the place from shortages, fights in the lines and the deterioration of its facility. To prevent the semi-empty shelves from being seen, the Center’s administration places the same product repeatedly, a very common practice in Cuban state stores. This Monday, the sequence of cans of the same vegetable or the row of mustard bottles tried to hide the reality that even these markets don’t have a great variety of goods.

The butcher’s area was the one that showed the least number of options. If it weren’t for the products of private businesses, the refrigerators of the place would have been practically deserted, devoid of dairy products, frozen food or the long-awaited boxes of chicken quarters and breasts, which are so in demand in a country where no one knows when they’ll come across certain foods again.

This Monday, at one point and to the chagrin of the buyers, the employees sent everyone out. Just when almost everyone had left, the current came back, and people began a stampede. “The light came back, the light came back!”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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