If You Want the Rice From the Cuban Ration Book, You Have To Go Unload the Ship

In the absence of stevedores, the authorities summon the population and the Army

The port of Vita currently has only one-third of the staff needed to unload cargo / Ahora!

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 8, 2024 — The Cuban authorities have put the population to work unloading rice from the ships due to the lack of stevedores in the ports. This is recognized in articles in the official press published this Monday, one in Granma and one in Ahora!.

In the port of Nuevitas (Camagüey), where 5,000 tons of rice arrived to be distributed in Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey and Las Tunas, they took workers from various sectors, “young people from the territory” and even soldiers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). Although the ship is on time, the unloading must be completed no later than Tuesday.

As he admitted in an interview with the newspaper Granma, Mario Martínez Mora, director of the Puerto de Nuevitas Base Business Unit, “our own force” is “very limited. We currently have one-third of the staff of stevedores. That’s why the support we receive is essential, especially in the unloading and cleaning of the cargo holds.”

The fundamental activity of the territory, at the moment, is the transport of rice

Meanwhile, at the Vita pier, in Holguín, the authorities are using “all means” to unload, as soon as possible, the 2,360 tons of rice that arrived on Friday. A few stevedores and workers from other sectors participate in the chore, brought from the eastern provinces and even from the center of the country, to distribute the rice in the province. “The fundamental activity of the territory, at the moment, is the transport of rice,” explained the director of the port, Manuel González Cecilio, to the newspaper Ahora!.

To ensure that the rice is distributed as quickly as possible in Holguín, vehicles and carriers were also mobilized for the work, despite the fact that fuel in the area is scarce. “Vita is 50 kilometers from Holguín; therefore, we must quickly mobilize everyone and have a lot of fuel for the operation, despite its shortage,” said Rosell González Pérez, Transport coordinator of the provincial government.

The Vita authorities anticipate that another ship will arrive on,Tuesday from Santiago de Cuba, with 2,440 more tons of food, presumably rice, in addition to 360 tons of peas. With this second shipment in just a few days, the authorities of Holguín intend to completely cover the rationing system’s family basket of June and a part of that of July.

“The unloading will not stop, regardless of whether it is Saturday or Sunday; for those of us who have this responsibility, the days are all the same. We will not rest until the families of Holguin have rice on their plates,” González Pérez said.

Havana has requested the assistance of its allies, such as China, to solve the rice shortage

The lack of stevedores on the Cuban docks can be explained by the fact that, in the face of low wages, many workers have left the country or simply moved to the private sector, in search of better living conditions.

Havana has requested the assistance of its allies, such as China, to solve the shortage of rice, which is part of the basic Cuban diet. In April, Beijing pledged to send more than 20,000 tons of rice to Cuba throughout the year, mainly by sea. This type of donation, although usual, has not been enough to resolve the demand, although China carried out some shipments by air after receiving an urgent request from Havana.

Another ally that has responded to requests for help from the Government to supply the population with the precious grain is Vietnam, which this year will send 1,640 tons of rice, at a date yet to be specified. The Communist Party of Cuba went ahead and thanked Vietnam in April, after the donation was announced as part of 50 new agreements to strengthen bilateral cooperation in numerous sectors.

In a search carried out by 14ymedio on satellite tracking platforms, such as Vessel Finder and Marine Traffic, it was not possible to determine the origin of the cargo ships that arrived full of rice this weekend in Nuevitas and Vita. For reasons of national security, the Cuban authorities do not publish in their press the details about ship movements, both for oil and for food products, whose massive import tries to alleviate the deficiencies of national production.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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