14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, May 10, 2023 — “The missing chicken and rice have arrived for the population. Pending coffee and detergent, blessings.” The message from a neighbor of Central Havana this Wednesday set off a crowd that ran in search of the chicken that had been lost for months. Two hours later there was no more chicken nor trace of a line.
Last Friday, the Ministry of Internal Trade asked the population for calm, assuring that chicken would arrive in all corners of the Island. A week earlier, the authorities revealed that, due to the lack of availability, only medical diets and children up to 13 years old would be entitled to the meat of the bird through the ration book, while those older than that age would receive picadillo and mortadella as a substitute.
Finally, and despite the collapse of chicken imports, the Government rectified the measure and began distribution in Camagüey last Friday, at the rate of one and a half pounds of meat for those under 14 and one pound for those over that age.
It is suspected that the shipment of chicken that arrived on May 5, aboard the refrigerated ship Orange Spirit from New Orleans, was destined for sale in Freely Convertible Currency (MLC), and that the authorities made the decision to distribute it through the ration book in national currency when they realized the growing unrest in the country, expressed on social networks and in the Caimanera protest, last Saturday.
Just unloaded from the Orange Spirit, the frozen poultry meat, which has become an object of desire for all Cubans since they stopped hoping for pork, was quickly distributed in Havana and dispatched to other cities in the center of the Island, as 14ymedio correspondents were able to verify.
This Tuesday, the trucks distributed the chicken to the butchers of the capital with such unusual efficiency that by the next day it was already available in every shop, as this newspaper could see in a tour of different neighborhoods of the center.
The chicken, from the American brand Tyson, is not one of the most appreciated by the population, because of the dark color it acquires with cooking. But the mere fact of finally being able to buy the expected half pound – at 20 pesos [$.80] – was already a cause for joy for the habaneros.
“You can’t complain, now you have chicken,” joked one neighbor to another who came out with his long-awaited package.
Despite the announcement of the arrival of the shipment of chicken, broadcast with great fanfare in Tribuna de La Habana this Tuesday, some neighbors were not expecting the happy news. “It took people by surprise,” said a retiree from Nuevo Vedado who found out, hours later, that they had supplied his butchery with the long-awaited chicken quarters.
The general director of the Copmar Food Marketing Company, Enrique Plaza Maldestein, said in Tuesday’s Noticerio Estelar that 51 containers of chicken were being unloaded in the port of Havana. The average number of tons of chicken needed to supply the capital’s family basket is 5,300, imported in its entirety.
For the third consecutive month, chicken purchases from the United States, which must be paid in cash due to the embargo restrictions, fell in March due to the lack of foreign exchange in the Central Bank. Imports from Brazil also decreased, another of the most stable suppliers on the Island and for whom there are no such limitations.
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.