On Cuban Television, a Government Minister Does a Balancing Act To Guarantee the ‘Basic Family Basket’ in December

December rice deliveries will be made as the product arrives on the Island.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 November 2023 — A senior Cuban government official appeared this Thursday on State TV’s Roundtable program to try to reassure the population. Despite the widespread shortages in the country, the first deputy minister of the Ministry of Internal Trade, Yosvani Pupo, said that the ’basic family basket’ for the last weeks of the year is guaranteed, although there could be transport problems.

Pupo began his presentation by alluding to the most demanded product in recent months: rice, whose absence has caused discomfort among the population, which considers it an essential product. The outlook for the grain, however, does not bring good omens. In Pinar de Río, Camagüey and Granma, one pound per capita corresponding to October still remains to be delivered, of the seven that are delivered monthly.

By November, about to end, rice is still in the “distribution process.” The official tried to alleviate the news by insisting that in the ports of Nuevitas and Santiago de Cuba there are ships unloading the imported grain. He admitted that “delivery may be delayed” due to the heavy rains in the east of the country. “But the seven pounds of rice for the month of November are in the country and in the process of distribution,” he insisted.

In the ports of Nuevitas and Santiago de Cuba there are ships unloading the imported grain

In the case of the December quota, Pupo said that deliveries will be made that same month as the ships arrive on the Island, although he hopes that at the end of 2023 there will be no more “debts to the population” to be paid.

As for another missing product, coffee, the manager guaranteed the delivery of “November’s consumption within the month.” “The imported raw material in the country and the domestic production are enough to respond to December’s consumption. The coffee is totally safe for these months,” said the leader, who confirmed the start of distribution in Havana, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Santiago de Cuba.

The sugar, whose delivery went from four to three pounds per month in September, will return in December to the initial amount, because “there is a total guarantee of that product,” the minister stressed. The total of the three pounds planned in October was also delivered, and for November the quota of Pinar del Río, Artemisa and Havana is being “completed.” These delays, he justified, are due to the fact that the sugar must be transported to those provinces from the production site.

Also the quota of salt, nationally produced and usually transported from Granma or Las Tunas, is covered for the rest of the year, Pupo clarified. Although he did not reveal what stage of distribution the product is in, he did warn that in Santiago de Cuba they have “fallen behind” with the delivery.

“Depending on the logistics, 10 ounces per capita are guaranteed for the months of November and December, but we will deliver 20 ounces in unison,” he added speaking about the delivery of imported peas, absent at least since September in the bodegas (ration stores) of Pinar del Río, Camagüey, Holguín and Granma.

Finally, the minister referred to the deliveries of modules donated through the World Food Program

Finally, the minister referred to the deliveries of modules donated through the World Food Program, such as peas, rice and oil.

“Three distributions have been made, two of them to family nuclei, and the third to people in vulnerable situations and pregnant women. There is a fourth distribution in process, aimed at people in vulnerable situations, pregnant women and children, which have only to be completed by Pinar del Río and Matanzas; and a fifth delivery has also been scheduled, which must begin in the eastern provinces before the end of the year or in the first days of January,” he said, alluding as an achievement to the delivery of bags of up to 18 pounds of food.

What the Minister of Internal Trade did not make clear in his speech were the plans to guarantee the basic basket in 2024 – taking into account the poor performance of his portfolio – or if he plans to continue blaming the fuel crisis.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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