A Line Ends in Blows this Good Friday in Central Havana

A massive line for the El Bodegón store in Centro Habana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 15 April 2022 — Several policemen and patrol cars, blows, arguments and many, many people set the tone for a line to buy vegetable oil, which extended through Salud Street in Centro Habana this Good Friday, a holiday in Cuba.

“The police can’t fight the hungry people. People brutalize themselves to buy oil and chicken,” says a resident who from her house sees how several women hit each other in one of the fights provoked by the massive line for the store El Bodegón, with its entrance through Belascoaín street.

“I don’t understand why on July 11 there wasn’t a little more force, like in this line to buy oil because the police go after people, but people don’t let go, they keep hitting,” adds the resident. “On a day like today God was dead and the devil is on the loose.”

A liter of vegetable oil in the capital’s informal market costs between 500 and 700 pesos, while the sale of oil in state stores continues to be rationed like other basic necessities. For more than two years, vegetable oil has begun to be scarce.

People who were able to purchase the product today at El Bodegón, at a price of 50 pesos, had to present their supply book from the rationed market where the purchase was recorded and they will not be able to purchase oil again in another state establishment for the next 15 days.

The situation is repeated throughout the country. In Santiago de Cuba, the Edible Oil Refining Company, which also supplies the province’s black market, was paralyzed for several weeks and a liter cost more than 700 pesos. Currently, although the factory has started processing, the product is still scarce and a liter can be bought for 500 pesos.

The authorities have insisted that the stopwork of the Santiago refinery was due to “a breakdown and maintenance work” and that “at no time has the raw material been lacking,” something that residents celebrate because they will have oil for several months, even if they have to buy it from informal vendors.


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