The Lack of Transport Limits the Delivery of Salt From Las Tunas to the Rest of Cuba

Workers of the Puerto Padre saltworks load bags of the product from the processing plant. / Periódico 26

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, April 15, 2024 — The Las Tunas Puerto Padre saltworks employees are forced to walk 1.6 miles from the center of the mounds “where the sun burns mercilessly” to the factory several times a day due to the company’s lack of transport, said Periódico 26, the provincial newspaper, on Monday.

It is not the worst data for the “lost salt.” The salt pan produces so much that it could expand its goods beyond Las Tunas, Holguín and Villa Clara. If it does not do so, they say, it is “due to the lack of cargo transport to move the productions to their destinations,” a problem that has left the tables of the population understocked.

The saltworks of Puerto Padre is the second in the country in production, behind that of Caimanera, in Guantánamo. Annually, according to official accounts, it extracts about 80,000 tons, which converts into approximately 40,000 tons of salt, although the data are not entirely clear. The information published on Monday states that in 2023, the company produced more than 25,000 tons of salt, compared to the 40,000 that were announced in November of that year.

Annually, according to official accounts, it extracts about 80,000 tons of salt that converts into approximately 40,000 tons

For 2024, the plan is “similar”: to extract 32,000 tons of raw material to produce 16,500 of coarse salt that is destined for the Electrochemical Industry of Sagua la Grande, in Villa Clara, for animal feed, while 8,500 tons go to the basic basket and social consumption.

“Even in the midst of material and structural difficulties, workers hope to re-export the salt as they did years ago, given the quality of their product,” said Yenisleydys Domínguez Sánchez, technical chief of the factory.

The official said that at the Industry and Commerce Fair of 2023 they spoke with the representative of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) about the possibility of exporting the product. There was a potential customer, an electrochemical company, that might be interested, but for now it’s only an idea.

In February, the Minister of Energy and Mines Vicente de la O Levy pointed out that up to 9,000 tons of salt were in the warehouses of Cuba’s factories without being able to be transferred. “Problems with transportation have affected the delivery to consumers,” the leader said.

This April, the official media Cubadebate published an extensive report in which it addressed the situation in depth. The experts then said that the geographical and climatic conditions of the Island complicated the obtaining of the product in certain conditions: rains dissolves the salt pans and hurricanes devastate the facilities. As a result, Cuba had to import salt last year.

The managers of the salt companies estimate the demand for the basic basket at 7,300 tons per quarter, which is done unevenly

The managers of the salt companies estimate the demand for the basic basket at 7,300 tons per quarter, which is done unevenly. “The distribution is made according to the number of people living in each household. Thus, in the first month of the quarter, which is March, 4,100 tons are distributed, and all families receive one bag of salt per nucleus,” said the director of the Ensal Salt Company, Jorge Luis Bell Álvarez.

“In the second month of the quarter, 2,800 tons are distributed, and only families that have more than four people receive salt. In the third and last month of the quarter, between 900 and 1,000 tons are distributed, and many families receive salt plus those who are owed a bag from the last distribution,” he added, speaking about the rest of the year.

In addition, the CEO of Geominsal, Fabio José Reimundo, announced several investments with which they aim to increase the production capacity from four to ten tons per hour of salt. “We have already bought most of the equipment, but we need another 1.5 million dollars. That would help us increase the production and transport of the salt,” he said.

The authorities affirmed that the objective is to prevent the population from spending 150 pesos on a bag of salt, although this newspaper found that in many areas of the capital up to 250 pesos are charged.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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