14ymedio, Marcelo Hernández, Havana, 19 November 2019 — “Hoarders” and an “uncontrolled avalanche” are the adjectives with which Cuban Television described the crowd gathered last Saturday at the reopening of the Cuatro Caminos Market. The official response to the riots has taken 48 hours to appear and has come through information issued on Prime Time News and prepared by the journalist Talía González.
The official information indicates “violations of the established norms for the entrance to a commercial establishment” and “the breakage of some structures and also quarrels.” In the emblematic building, built in 1920, “there were unpleasant acts of hoarding” of people “acting with total impunity,” adds the TV news.
At least one woman suffered a fracture during the stampede through the interior aisles of the mall, reopened after five years of repairs. In addition, two doors were shattered by the crowd and there was shoving and fights that forced administrators to decree the closure of the facility for several days.
“Those who caused these unfortunate incidents did not go there only to buy products for use in their homes,” but they are “part of a phenomenon that has not yet had a solution,” said the journalist, considered a voice very close to the high hierarchy of the government.
González denounced “the hoarding and subsequent resale on the street at exorbitant prices,” a black market that for decades has been one of the main sources of supply for Cubans.
The official news attributed part of the responsibility to the market managers, who did not take the appropriate measures to control the flow of customers at the entrances.
However, according to the report, the public behaved in an “uncivilized manner” and many “dedicated themselves to recording everything with their cell phones and then showing them in smear campaigns on social networks.”
In the images that have been coming to light since last Saturday, many people are seen filming the flood of customers, the blows and shoves with their mobile phones.
The dissemination through social networks of news events has forced the official press to address issues that were previously kept under control, if not hidden. The protest of the resident of Regla against the caravan of Miguel Díaz-Canel after the tornado last January and the death of the young girl, Paloma, after being given a vaccine, are some of the information that has come to light thanks to the internet.
Cuban Television considers this immediacy an “evil that we experience these days” and regrets what happened despite the efforts of the workers who had been setting up the market for reopening to the public, the day of the 500th Anniversary of Havana.
During the last months the shortage of essential products, such as food and cleaning supplies, has worsened in Cuba. In an attempt to alleviate the situation, the authorities decreed rationing in the sale of various merchandise in stores in convertible pesos, especially frozen chicken, sausages and beer.
However, the measures have failed to prevent compulsive purchases or those that aim to accumulate products and then resell them in informal networks. “It is true that the shortage of necessities during the last months in the network of stores resulted in consumers having an expectation of accessing them in the highly stocked Cuatro Caminos Market,” it acknowledges.
“But nothing justifies what happened there,” said González, who calls for measures “to make an example of” those who provoke situations such as that experienced on Saturday in the so-called Single Market.
According to information provided by CIMEX to the official press among the most important economic damages are the breakage of three rolling doors, one of the panels of the glass door located at the entrance, and some traffic barriers that are estimated at a cost of more than $2,000. In addition, the same sources ensure that there were “losses of approximately 5,000 CUC” in damaged or stolen products.
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