14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 12 August 2021 — “Until recently they were paying for the same thing on the street, but now when they see it on the market stands, they are shouting in the sky,” a vendor at the agricultural market on San Rafael Street in Centro Habana responded on Thursday morning to the complaints about the price of garlic, 350 pesos for a pound of garlic. “I have to pay a very expensive rent and nobody gives me anything,” explained the merchant.
At the beginning of this month, and after the historic popular protests of July 11, the authorities annulled, with a new resolution, the measures taken in February and April that set maximums for agricultural products for sale in the private sector and some foods (taro, all types of bananas, sweet potato, mango, guava, papayas and tomatos) destined for “social consumption.”
After the Ministry of Finance and Prices announced that the decision was made with the “objective of recognizing the current costs of agricultural producers and stimulating an increase in production,” some products that have disappeared for months have returned to the markets, but this time with prices that never cease to amaze customers.
“This is crazy, almost 100 pesos a pound of beans, and as for garlic, don’t even look at it, there’s no one who will pay for it,” according to a buyer who ventured into the San Rafael market, one of the most important in the Cuban capital, speaking to 14ymedio. The cost of a pound of this staple, widely used in Cuban cuisine, exceeds $14 US, according to the official exchange rate. “In addition, the heads are small and the cloves are very thin.They are not good quality.”
The merchant, however, defended himself against the criticism: “I am an easterner and for me life is not easy at all in Havana. What bothers me is the double standard that until a few days ago these same people bought garlic at that price on the street, because there wasn’t any in the agricultural market.” The seller assures that “now that it is on the stands, then they complain, but until yesterday they paid for it at whatever price.”
The explanation failed to convince those who passed near the sign with the prices. “Everything has risen, it is not only the garlic, but also onios, taro and not to mention the pork. At this rate, by the end of the year I do not know what we will be able to eat in this country,” questioned a pensioner who left the market with only a piece of pumpkin and some coriander leaves. A few meters away, another vendor exhibited grapes at 120 pesos per pound, more than two days’ pension for any old person on this island.
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