14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 26 April 2022 — The sale of food in Cuban pesos has lasted three days at the Fress store in Plaza de Carlos III, in Havana. This Monday, the brand new business, which opened its doors on Friday with great anticipation, was closed.
To the question of a client who was surprised, an employee of the place explained that he was without service “temporarily” due to “technical problems.” The same was written on a sign behind its windows. And indeed, inside it could be seen how an operator was messing around in a display refrigerator.
The employee also said that they would open tomorrow, Tuesday, but “only the food area,” that is, the cafeteria to consume already prepared products on the premises. This newspaper was able to verify that almost all the canned foods and also the dairy products that filled the shelves and refrigerators for sale to the public had disappeared.
According to two workers from the Plaza speaking to 14ymedio, “they held an emergency meeting here in Carlos III due to criticism on social networks, and starting tomorrow they can only sell prepared food.”
Another worker asserted that “they had ordered the closure from above, from the Government,” due to criticism of the resale of products such as condensed milk, which was sold for 250 pesos at Fress, a few meters from the Plaza supermarket where it costs 35 pesos but where the lines to enter can take long hours. The same goes for gouda cheese at 4,000 pesos for a wheel of three kilograms, which is only found in stores in hard currency.
The opening of the store caused outrage among its first customers, who left dismayed by the extremely high prices of products that are much cheaper in state stores in the same shopping center.
Sources from Carlos III Plaza had confirmed to this newspaper that the state premises were rented to a Spaniard, something unusual in Cuba for a private establishment of this type. The man himself welcomed the customers on opening day. Until now, Fress provided its services through various online shopping sites for home delivery, supported by payments from abroad.
“If the only thing that is going to remain here is the hot table, this will not last even a week, because the food was bad, bad,” commented a young man, this Monday, upon learning of the sudden turn of business.
“But of course, if people here are persecuted for that when they do it at the door of their house, or in their cafeteria, in their paladar (private restaurant),” a woman replied. “I have nothing against the private ones, but the problem is not that it is private, but that it was cheeky. Why some yes and others no?”
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