14ymedio, Havna, 23 January 2018 — The local authorities in Cabaiguán, Sancti Spíritus Province, have become serious about sales from ambulatory cart vendors. Since the end of last year, more than 50 contracts with the carretilleros have been rescinded for violating the regulated prices imposed by the State, according to the official press. In addition, the carts that have remained have been moved away from the State’s “Red Tent” farm market, and an undetermined number of pounds of merchandise for sale (“not just a few,” according to the press) has been confiscated.
The newspaper Escambray put on the table, in its notice this Monday, the complaints of the carretilleros, who argue that it is impossible to sell at the regulated price if they want to earn something, contrary to the municipal authorities, who claim nonpayment to the State business, Acopio, for stolen produce or abuse of the consumer.
According to the local publication, in spite of efforts to control the imports of basic foods, the laws have been continually violated in the face of the laxness of the authorities and the citizens. For this reason, the Council of Municipal Administration (CAM) also encourages the buyers to denounce the carretilleros who break the rules.
“In December we made the decision, coordinated with Urban Agriculture, to not have any more contracts with the mobile points of this organism and to leave only the fixed points that have been a local investment. This was owing to price violations, fundamentally, and because they weren’t complying with the regulations of Urban Agriculture, which establish that they are mobile cart vendors, who can’t be within at least 200 meters of a State entity — and they were in front of the Red Tent — and that they should be linked to an organopónico*, because their purpose was to sell the production from those places,” Carlos Puentes Molina, Vice President of the CAM that manages the distribution of goods and consumption, told Escambray.
The text also said that they took measures against the ambulatory vendors who violated “the scope of the activity,” meaning that they cannot eastablish themselves in a fixed area. “Just in this area there were six who were reprimanded and preventive measures were taken,” says Elianni Silot López, municipal director of Work and Social Security.
The official press maintains that when the food was at the market in Cabaiguán, “at payable prices” (i.e. regulated), it sold in barely one hour. In addition, the police intervened in three stores and confiscated enough merchandise to fill two trucks.
The local police continue to monitor “every Sunday at the fair (…) to verify that it is selling in accord with the list of prices.”
In the whole province, the Integral Supervision Direction had imposed, at the end of 2017, 84 fines for price violations (a total of 9,000 pesos) and collected another 25,000 pesos in sanctions against cuentapropistas, self-employed persons, who were engaged in business without a license.
Since the end of 2016, the enforcement of controls on prices was extended from the province of Artemisa to the rest of the Island. Most consumers celebrated the much lower prices, but now they lament the decrease in quality and supply after the arrival of regulated prices in the markets.
The measure, which put producers and intermediaries on alert, was taken after a session of the National Assembly that took place in December 2016, in which the subject of the price of food provoked numerous discussions. In answer to the claim by several deputies, Raúl Castro said that measures would be taken to close the gap between prices and salaries.
*Cuban system of urban agriculure using organic gardens. It first arose as a community response to lack of food security during the Special Period after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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