14ymedio, Havana, 27 February 2021 — A sweet seller staged a protest this Saturday in Caibarién, Villa Clara, after being fined 2,000 pesos. The man climbed on the roof of his sales cart, in the middle of a public road, and around him dozens of people from the locality gathered showing their support for the self-employed seller, as reported by Yeko Rodríguez.
In a live broadcast via Facebook, made by Rodríguez, the man is seen perched on the roof of a three-wheeled vehicle adapted as a point of sale for sweets and trinkets. “That man who is up there has just been fined 2,000 pesos for selling sweets, sweets that are not available in the stores,” says the young man.
“He sells cupcakes and meringues,” adds Rodríguez as dozens of people approach, shouting at the authorities. “Don’t get off. Homeland and life,” a passerby is heard saying. Shortly after, several police vehicles with uniformed men arrive at the scene and try to make the seller get down. No success so far.
“Cancel the fine,” cry several voices. “Abusers,” we hear others say, who also repeat “Enough abuse already.” “The only thing that man does is work and they make him out to be an enemy,” adds Rodríguez. “I’m not going to get off,” insists the private worker while the solidarity around his sales cart increases.
The vendor begins to distribute his sweets to the crowd for free and the broadcast cuts out.
A litle while later, Yeko Rodríguez reappeared in a live broadcast on Facebook denouncing that his account had been hacked and the two videos of the protest deleted. The young man identified the seller as “Miguel” and insisted that many asked him about what finally happened with the seller of sweets. “I do not know, as I understand a government official said that they were going to cancel the fine.”
“Maybe I can’t broadcast more today. From what I see on the networks and the repercussion this has had, at any moment someone comes and quotes me and I will go, because all I have done is show the truth,” said Rodríguez in a short video.
As of January 29th, the Cuban authorities established fines of up to 15,000 pesos and the confiscation of their merchandise as a punishment to merchants who contravene the new rules on prices and rates published in the Extraordinary Official Gazette.
The decree-law establishes different penalties, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos for not having a display board with the products and prices they offer; penalties from 8,000 to 10,000 for “withholding, reserving, postponing or not putting up for sale the products meant for retail marketing”; and from 12,000 to 15,000 if they do not comply with the ordered measures, for what is considered “abusive prices” and “speculative prices.”
The measure was published amid a growing shortage in the country’s agricultural markets, where many products have disappeared from the market stands to plunge into the informal market.
A few hours later a video filmed by another witness was released in which the crowd is seen gathering around the police car to prevent the arrest of the seller. When the patrol car leaves the scene, several dozen people follow the vehicle. “We are going to the Government,” shout some who are heading towards the headquarters of the People’s Power in the municipality.
A local source confirmed to 14ymedio that several representatives of the local government left the building to inform the crowd that the self-employed person had been released and the fine had been withdrawn.
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