Eight Blocks in Line, the Price To Get End-of-Year Gasoline in Cuba

The line of cars extends for three blocks from San Rafael at Infanta and turns on Zanja to stretch for five more blocks. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 December 2023 — The faces of the drivers who were waiting this Thursday morning in the line in front of the San Rafael and Infanta gas station left no room for doubt: the feeling of helplessness was widespread. “Eight blocks long!” complained the drivers who were waiting in the hope of buying a few gallons of gasoline in a line without end.

In the second block of the line, the driver of a Lada belonging to the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde empties the remains of fuel left in the tank with a hose and deposits it in an old jam or tomato puree can. “That’s to be able to fill the tank in the service center and buy as much as possible,” explains the owner of the almendrón (shared taxi), pointing out the “maneuver” of his neighbor in the line.

“We all do the same thing because there is no fuel anywhere, and these opportunities must be taken advantage of,” he explains. Others simply bring their vehicles to guarantee the purchase of fuel and resell it later if they can’t use it.

Two cars behind, a young driver tries to calm his partner through the phone. “Take it easy, the line is very long and this is going to take a while,” he counsels.

The more they advance in the line, which starts at San Rafael and Infanta, follows three blocks and turns at Zanja to stretch for five more blocks, the more sullen the drivers seem. This end of the year, they say, getting fuel has become particularly difficult.

“I’ve never seen such a thing. Having a car I have faced very long lines, sometimes in the early hours and for several hours, but this is the longest I’ve been in,” says another driver who sees several dozen vehicles ahead of him. “I’m here because I have no choice. I need gas, but at this point I don’t know how long it will take to get to the service center or if I will get fuel,” he says. Behind him, several more feet of the line wait on the corner of Zanja and Soledad.

The driver of a Lada from the official newspaper ’Juventud rebelde’ uses a hose to empty the remains of fuel that remain in the tank. (14ymedio)

The scarcity of such an essential resource leaves many in a state of uncertainty. In the capital, where there are more vehicles than anywhere else in the country, the streets have seen traffic decrease in a worrying way in recent months. “There are times of the day when not even a bicycle passes along 23rd Street, which is the vital center of Havana,” says the driver.

One piece of news in particular worries drivers, who take refuge from the unexpected drizzle: the Government is going to raise the price of fuel. This was announced a few days ago in Parliament by the Island authorities, who, in the face of the economic crisis, plan to raise the price of many other products in an attempt to recover the country’s finances.

At the moment, what was discussed in the parliamentary sessions does not reveal the new price, although the leaders clarified that the fuel that is purchased by foreigners will be charged in foreign currency.

To top it off, the drivers add that every habanero knows how to read the signs of the approaching crisis: “The refinery has been shut down for days.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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