Rationing Neutralizes ‘The Mother of All Lines’ in Cuba

With the start, this Thursday, of the “municipalization” of sales in pesos, the lines to shop have been shortened. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 21 April 2022 — The area outside the Cuatro Caminos Market looked very different this Thursday, compared to what usually occurs every two weeks, and especially what happened on April 7th.

That day, thousands of people gathered in a line that reached almost 20 blocks, where they waited to present their ID card and be entered on the list that determines what day they can go shopping over the following two weeks.

With the start, this Thursday of the “municipalization” of sales in pesos, what some customers sarcastically called “the mother of all lines” has been diluted. Only a few dozen people were waiting at the doors of the establishment.  Under the return to the older system, Cubans will only be allowed to shop at stores in their municipalities where they reside.

A police colonel explained to this newspaper that “the ID cards were not collected today” and that those who are waiting are “those who were pending from the other time.”

The collection of documents will be done next Tuesday, this time, following the new regulations, only for residents of El Cerro and Old Havana. “Once they shop they cannot shop again until next month,” explained the agent, who acknowledged that before, even people from Mayabeque, Artemisa and Pinar del Río used to go there.

The inhabitants of the areas furthest from the center are the most affected by the return to rationing by municipality, announced on Monday by this newspaper and confirmed by the official press the following day; the measure was previously in force to avoid contagion of covid-19 and was repealed in early November.

In the municipalities on the outskirts, the number of state businesses is much lower, which reduces the opportunities for residents in those areas to buy food. In some neighborhoods of Rancho Boyeros, Cotorro, the lack of stores is dramatic and the residents see their situation as part of a discriminatory distribution policy.

The authorities acknowledged that the decision was made “taking into account the existing situation with the availability of products and with the aim of making sales more viable, achieving greater equity and therefore reducing the crowding of people in establishments.” In short: because of the shortages of products and to avoid the long lines.

It remains to be seen whether rationing improves the former, but it has been shown that, for the latter, it works, at least with regards the longest line of all.


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