As of June, Cuba Built Only 0.8 Percent of the Homes It Needs

The Island needs 450,000 homes, but the execution is slower than the worst forecasts. / Venceremos

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 19 June 2024 – The monthly meeting that Prime Minister Manuel Marrero holds with the provincial governors did not leave good news, which is not a novelty. The June meeting laid bare the painful situation of the housing program in Cuba, where by the end of May, only 3,579 homes had been completed, 0.8% of what is needed, according to data from Delilah Díaz Fernández, general director of Housing.

The account indicates that the Government needs 447,375 properties, even despite the population collapse due to the emigration of the last two years, whose numbers are unknown due to the delay in the preparation of the census due to economic reasons, according to the regime. “As a general rule, the times projected to stop the deterioration and resolve the deficit are increased,” said the official, who described the rhythms of execution as “low”

Díaz Fernández placed responsibility on the lower levels, an increasingly common practice in the Government. “This is a sign of the lack of attention to the territories,” she said. In order of severity, the problem affects Havana, Camagüey, Mayabeque, Santiago de Cuba and Isla de la Juventud.

Manufacturing achieves a miserable 0.5% of the needs in “all lines,” the official warned

This is the logical consequence of a production of materials that is still in a bad situation. Manufacturing reaches a miserable 0.5% of the needs in “all lines,” the official warned. At this point, there was no other option than to return to the issue of the use of mud and clay, which has been a constant since just a year ago when the authorities of the Ministry of Construction and the state group Geicon proposed on television to leave marble and hard materials for export for foreign exchange and take advantage of the natural resources of the Island so that “each of the regions can obtain its own materials to build.”

At that time, the first vice president of the state company, Reynolds Ramírez Vigaud, said that the figures were better in 2023 than the previous year, so it was hoped that production would improve, although “the expected results were not yet achieved, as a result of the energy situation.” In the light of the data – including, precisely, those for energy – few things have improved, although there has no information in the provincial press of successful local brick and ceramic productions thanks to the ovens, ecological or not.

“On the issue of housing, it is an objective limitation that there is no cement or steel, and in the short term there will not be a substantial change in the production of these elements. So, what can we do as a Government, with our responsibility to the people, so that a program as important as this does not stop? Doing different things from the local production of materials,” he said and then asked for more clay deposits to be sought and more furnaces to be built. “The most secure resources we are going to have are those that we are able to produce,” he finished.

“The most secure resources we are going to have are the ones we are able to produce”

In line with that idea, although in a very different area, the responsibility in the cultivation of rice was transferred to a lower level. When the national production strategy completely failed – of the 700,000 tons needed for domestic consumption, only 180,000 were produced in 2022 – the Government referred the initiative no longer to the provinces, not even to the municipalities, but to self-consumption.

“We have identified in each province and municipality a significant number of areas where the people can plant rice, and with the whole issue of self-consumption, all companies must have areas, together with those that we can assign in the territories. That’s strategic,” explained the Deputy Prime Minister, Jorge Luis Tapia Fonseca, who dropped the idea that the state is palming off the cultivation.

“We have to study the program of the harvest and the purchase of that rice, because it does not reach the prioritized destinations. That has to be controlled by the governments in the municipalities and provinces,” he said after warning that more rice must be planted and produced. He admitted, on the contrary, that there is one element that the Government must face: “the incentives to buy that rice.”

Ydael Pérez Brito, Minister of Agriculture, explained that the objective is “to increase all rice areas on small and medium scales, deliver quality seed, produce the rice that demands the self-sufficiency of producers, productive bases and companies, and increase the sale in state markets, agricultural fairs and popular councils to gradually replace its import.” In recent years, much of the country receives the basic food in its diet thanks to purchases abroad and donations from friendly countries. Among them are Vietnam and, above all, China, which in 2024 promised to send 20,408 tons, some of which initially arrived by plane, pointing out the emergency situation.

“When there is a systematic exchange with the people, when things are explained, even without having the solutions, people reason and understand”

Manuel Marrero appealed to the population, whose aging was also talked about at length at the meeting, and said that, despite the bad situation, “when there is a systematic exchange with the people, when things are explained, even without having the solutions, people reason and understand.”

“The people have to see,” he continued, “that we are accompanying them from the neighborhood [with] the truth, the simplicity, the dissatisfaction that we have with the problems that are still pending,” he reiterated.

At the end, after calling for leisure activities and supplies to be sought to have “a good summer,” Marrero asked to plan for the cyclone season and the end of the year, in addition to “guaranteeing political-cultural activities to celebrate July 26.” There is only one month left to know if there will be energy and fuel left over for that event.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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