14ymedio, Francisco Herodes Díaz Echemendía, Santiago De Cuba , 15 January 2021 — All state and private businesses that surround La Plaza de Santiago de Cuba dawned this Friday completely closed. The shopping center, one of the three that sell food products in freely convertible currency (MLC) in the eastern city, has had its doors closed since the beginning of the year due to an outbreak of Covid among its workers.
Now that the city has regressed to the local-transmission phase, the authorities imposed 58 measures in response to the unstoppable increase in infections. Among the measures, they determined to close all establishments from Friday to Sunday. Only essential services in “health, death and production” will be maintained.
The sale of food in foreign currency stores was another anguish for many people from Santiago. However, these stores are where there are more products, especially meat, which is scarce in state shops that sell in pesos.
“What appears the most is ham, cheese and ground meat. The Ten Cents store recently opened and began selling food,” a customer explains to 14ymedio, “the other stores in MLC, all they have are toiletries and home appliances.”
In Telegram and on social networks groups have been created to keep up with the supply in these stores. “I understand that they closed La Plaza. Do you know if there is some meat in the others? I am from Palma Soriano and I would not want to go to Santiago unnecessarily,” asked a young woman in a local Facebook group on Tuesday. “In Cubalse they have chicken breasts for $6.55 but there is tremendous line, so come prepared,” another user replied.
The most commonly repeated question in these communication channels is “What’s there?” Many cautious people prefer to inform themselves first before going to the stores at their pleasure, as they are almost always without products or run out quickly. And they also prefer to play it safe and not spend more than 50 pesos on transportation, the average it takes to move around the city today.
“If Santiago was expensive before, after January 1, the salt has rained down on us,” says an anguished housewife living in the town of Boniato, who, in order to buy unrationed food must travel to the center of the city. “The price of station wagons and motorbikes, which are essential to travel urgently, have skyrocketed to the point that if you don’t have 50 pesos a day for transportation, it’s better to not go out.”
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