14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 4 December 2021 — This Saturday a trade fair paralyzed traffic on the avenue in front of Carlos III Plaza in Havana. With the participation of several CIMEX(Cuban Export-Import Corporation) branches, and after more than two years since this type of event was not organized in the shopping complex, the sale began in the morning amid complaints from the population and an abundant police presence.
The available products varied: oil, shampoo, deodorant, canned soft drinks, compote, among other products. The problem was in the quantity available, very little, giving the impression that it would soon be exhausted. Some merchandise which has practically disappeared or there are just small stocks o sale in stores in national currency, such as children’s articles, were being sold at high prices. A small backpack cost 495 CUP while some board games cost around 400.
The line extended several blocks from the place and was heavily guarded by numerous members of the police and the prevention department of the Armed Forces.Also notable in the vicinity were plainclothes officers who carefully observed everything that happened in the surroundings. .
The sales area was cordoned off and consisted of several tents located in the portals of the area, access was controlled by law enforcement officers who collected identity cards from people before they entered.
Long delay, crowds at the entrance, the line advanced very slowly, a scenario that caused complaints as the hours passed and many lost hope of being able to buy anything. “This fair is only for the news, they sell little things to advertise, but this line is not moving and there are few products, we probably can’t buy anything,” commented a woman in line when she saw that the police were taking too long to organize it.
Within that restricted access area, several incidents occurred between the uniformed men and some people who tried to go out to the rope that delimited the place to look for money. “Return the money,” the policeman ordered a woman. “She’s my sister, she brought me money because I can’t buy everything I want,” she explained. “Give it back now,” replied the policeman in a threatening tone. The woman finally returned the money and, after a heated discussion, several uniformed officers detained her to a patrol car.
This newspaper was able to verify that there was no strict observance of compliance with pandemic-prevention measures there, some people lowered their masks to speak or smoke and the distance between the those in the middle of the crowd was not fulfilled.
In Carlos III there have been other fairs of this type in the past, although never with such an influx of the public, nor in the middle of a surveillance operation as large as the one deployed in the area this Saturday.
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