"The Orders Came From Above"

The hotels had put food for sale at high prices for the average Cuban. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 April 2020 — In the Comodoro Hotel the food delivery service is shut down. It is not the only one in the capital to have suspended a service launched earlier this month, after authorities asked the population to restrict their outings to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But one of its workers has revealed to 14ymedio that the orders are coming from above.

“How is it that whoever has a few more convertible pesos can eat roasted chicken brought home, while we are seeing the tremendous lines in the stores every day?” The employee believes that the authorities have ordered the suspension of the service to avoid the “such great differences” that are being generated between those who can afford the high prices of the hotel offerings and those who must hopelessly line up.

“That was canceled a few days ago,” says another Comodoro worker, who maintains that they do not plan to restart the initiative. “First we canceled the home delivery of alcoholic beverages and now we also suspended the delivery of the food combos we were giving out,” he says.

“Call from tomorrow because this service has been paralyzed by some problems we have had,” responds an employee of the Meliá Cohiba hotel when asked about the same service.

The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel was one of the first to offer, in early April, these offers of prepared food and food packages, which only lasted a few weeks.

The announcement generated controversy because, at the high prices of the dishes, with delivery, it cost more than 30 CUC to receive food at home. Just 24 hours later, after criticism on social networks, the establishment modified the offering, eliminating the condition of the minimum amount, but the food rates were maintained.

A month later it is impossible to contact the service. No one responds to emails or answers one of the two phone numbers provided to place orders. The other number is simply out of service. 14ymedio was only able to get responses from several employees on a visit to the hotel.

“We have paused everything to restructure the sale,” a Parque Central worker kindly explains when asked about the reasons for the suspension. Another employee, however, considers it unlikely that the service will resume in the short term. “Everything happened, the phones did not stop ringing, there were people who sent to buy up to seven packages of meatballs for home delivery, while a person would need to line up for at least four hours at a store for the same thing,” says the worker, who prefers not to give her name.

The Parque Central offerings included hamburgers, pizzas and meats with garnishes but “what was most in demand were the precooked meatballs and croquettes, in addition to a basket costing 35 CUC that included different types of sausages and cheese,” explains the employee.

Home delivery menu items from the Meliá Cohiba Hotel.

“The number of calls was such that we could not process them,” he alleges.

“I cannot go out every day to buy food because I have to work from home and I was resolving a lot with that service, especially lunch. For a few days now it has become difficult for me to find hotels with home delivery, even from the Parque Central it’s not available,” says Mercedes Rivero, a resident of the Plaza de la Revolución municipality, speaking to 14ymedio.

Rivero explains that she now gets food for her family of four with some private restaurants that have home delivery. “It is expensive, I cannot always pay for it, but it is an alternative for difficult days. My sister lives in Miami and sometimes she helps me. Yesterday I ordered some pizzas and soft drinks and the boys from Mandao brought it to me at the door of my house,” she said.

This courier and food delivery service has spent four years trying to make its way on the island and finally seems to have found a business niche. Those who manage to avoid others by not going outside will have gained something during this health crisis.


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