Thefts of Meat, Rice and Other Foods Are Multiplying in Cuba

Beef confiscated in the municipality of Placetas, Villa Clara. (Facebook/Fuerza del Pueblo)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 June 2023 — The increasingly acute shortages in Cuba coincide with a wave of robberies in food outlets. In recent days alone, the authorities confirmed the confiscation of 133 pounds of beef that was sold illegally in the province of Villa Clara, while in Havana some thieves took all the rice stored in a warehouse in anticipation of its delivery in June to the rationed market.

In the town municipality of Placetas, the police reported on Monday that Maykel Vega, known in the town as Maykel Zapatilla, was arrested for illegally selling meat. The accused, upon noticing the presence of the uniformed personnel, tried to get rid of the product, throwing it out of the kitchen window of his house.

The operation took place after several members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution informed the police of the transfer of a shipment of meat at Vega’s house, in broad daylight, according to the Facebook profile of Fuerza del Pueblo, an account associated with the Ministry of the Interior.

The administrators of the profile said they had reports from several ranchers in the area, who indicated that Vega’s house was used as a stolen meat warehouse on the farms of the province.

In the operation, the authorities also seized “suitable instruments,” such as knives, a black briefcase with remnants of meat inside and black rubber boots with “blood stains.”

Villa Clara has one of the highest rates of cattle theft on the Island. A note from the official media Cubadebate, published on May 12, reported that the province lost on average two heads of cattle every hour between January and March of this year.

In the first quarter, producers lost 4,835 animals, of which 2,893 correspond to cattle (60%) and 1,942 to horses (40%). The number of crimes is more than double those reported in the same period of 2022, and the official press ventured to predict that, if the trend of theft continues, the province would lose more than 19,000 animals this year.

On Monday, the robbery of a bodega [ration store], located on H Street between 13 and 15, Vedado, Havana, was also confirmed between Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Quoted by the newspaper Directorio Cubano on condition of anonymity, an official of the Ministry of Internal Trade said that the thieves took all the rice that was in the establishment and a part of the sugar that was going to be delivered for the regulated basic basket, corresponding to the month of June.

The officer confirmed that this type of crime is increasingly common on the Island in the midst of a deep food-shortage crisis. “If the rice was already not enough, how are we going to solve it while they replace it?” asked a neighbor, according to the newspaper.

Cuba is facing an upsurge in violence, with armed robberies of cell phones, motorcycles and even horse-drawn carriages. In most cases, the police do not provide details about the progress of the investigations or whether they capture the culprits.

The disappearance and murder of doctor Pablo Corrales Susi, allegedly to steal his motorcycle in Havana, has been reported on social networks and by the independent press since day one, while the official media remained silent. The health professional was last seen alive on Monday of last week, and his body was found four days later with signs of violence.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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