Customers Protest the Seizure of Vendors’ Merchandise in Santiago de Cuba

Customers in Santiago de Cuba protest the seizure of products from private-sector vendors.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía, Santiago de Cuba, November 28, 2020 — Authorities were confronted with outrage, criticism and rage from residents of Santiago de Cuba’s Barrocones neighborhood on Friday after they confiscated a privately owned truck, alleging that vendors were using it to sell meats and vegetables for exorbitant prices.

“They were selling bananas for 20 pesos and avocado for 15. They also had lettuce and tomatoes, none of which are easy to come by these days,” said one outraged resident, who was no longer able to buy what he wanted on the corner of Carlos Dubois and Procesa streets, where the vehicle had been parked.

“The government only sells low-quality products, which are also expensive. And that’s when they have them, which nowadays is not very often,” claimed the customer after the vendors had been shut down.

Government inspectors and uniformed police officers had tried to convince the sellers to lower their prices. After failing to reach an agreement, however, authorities decided to seize the contents of the truck, which was being used to transport onions, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes, chiles and cabbage.

“Here in the city the only way you can buy food is through the merolicos [self-employed street vendors], so people became angry and surrounded the police who were preventing them from operating,” said the resident.

Food shortages as well as increased prices for the few items that are available have led to a growing sense of despair among local residents. The tension has been exacerbated by a new outbreak of Covid-19 in recent days that put the region one step away from new restrictions intended to control transmission of the virus.


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