14ymedio, Havana, 4 January 2020 — After hundreds of criticisms in Cuba’s streets and on social networks about the high prices in the popular Coppelia ice cream parlor, which were raised at the beginning of the year, the Government of Havana announced on Monday that the new prices would be lowered, without specifying the details
“After a thorough analysis of the population’s opinions, it was decided to reduce the prices at the Coppelia ice cream parlor,” said the Havana Tribune in its summary of today’s meeting of the Provincial Defense Council, where the main focus of the meeting was the epidemiological situation in the province.
The Havana authorities also announced that they will reduce the prices of other recreational facilities such as Lenin Park, Expocuba and La Isla del Coco. The new prices are not yet available and will be announced “soon in different media and informational spaces.”
As of January 1, each scoop of Coppelia ice cream began to be sold at a price of 7 pesos when it used to cost 1.50. The traditional “ice cream salad,” (sundae) which includes five scoops plus toppings, was then raised to 35 pesos, the four-scoop Super Twins to 28 pesos, and the Three Graces to 21 pesos.
The symbolism of Coppelia and its ice creams, which once were offered in ten flavors and have been immortalized in films such as Strawberry and Chocolate, ensured that this piece of the officially called “Ordering Task” generated an avalanche of complaints, memes in the social networks and customer reactions at the ice cream parlor.
“A sundae at Coppelia is the equivalent of the wages paid for 8 hours and 45 minutes of medical duty for a doctor in Cuba,” an Internet user who identified herself as Laura Bustillo wrote this weekend on her social networks.
The ice cream parlor, located on the central corner of L and 23, in El Vedado, is a Havana icon and always has long lines, especially for people with low incomes and students who cannot afford the prices of private ice cream places where one scoop can cost between 20 and 25 pesos.
For families with children, eating in Coppelia’s outdoor lounges, its court area, or the more glamorous upper floor, has been a typical weekend outing for decades. It is also a regular gathering place for students at the University of Havana, which is a few meters from the ice cream shop.
In Sancti Spíritus and Cienfuegos, the prices at Coppelia, which has parlors in all the provincial capitals of the country, also rose at the beginning of this year, a rise that provoked angry reactions from the few customers at the formerly crowded ice cream parlors.
Unlike in Havana, in those provinces the price of a scoop of ice cream was raised to 6 pesos. However, a combination of three scoops in Santiago de Cuba accompanied by a little syrup and two cookies costs 21 pesos, and the prices of sundaes range from 30 pesos to 60 pesos, the latter of which comes with 8 scoops, 3 toppings and 2 cookies.
However, after the announcement of the price reduction, on the Roundtable TV program, the Minister of Internal Trade, Betsy Díaz Velázquez, announced what is really being modified. “We are not talking about the service, we are talking about the product. Coppelia’s ice cream is of excellent quality,” said Díaz Velázquez before stating that the cost of 7 pesos for each 90-gram scoop will be maintained in the Las Cuatro Joyas room, which offers table service.
“The scoops in the areas of the courts and towers will be 5 pesos,” explained the minister, speaking of the areas where the customers wait in line and are served at the counter. The “Word” ice cream parlor located on Santa Catalina street will sell at the same price. In the outer part of Coppelia where the ice cream is served in cones, one scoop will cost 4 pesos.
This is the second time in a few days that the government has been forced to retreat in the face of popular complaints and questions. Something similar happened with the announcement of the new electricity rates.
The massive complaints about the high prices caused the authorities to reduce the initially approved figures, which were on a sliding scale according to consumption, with the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) rising as usage rises. Residential customers whose use is between 251 and 500 kWh were those most affected by the announced rates.
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