With Blackouts and Little Food, the State Markets of Ciego de Ávila Open Until Midnight

Cuban officialdom does not mention several obvious problems of this approach: blackouts, lack of products and corruption in the food sector in the province.

In the opinion of the authorities, the night markets or “new type” markets work well because they are “chained” with the ’MSMEs’

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 29, 2024 — At least five state markets in the province of Ciego de Ávila will begin working until midnight every day of the week. The decision, made by the Ministry of Agriculture, through Acopio, Cuba’s State Procurement and Distribution Agency, is based on the “experience” that two centers in the main municipality have been carrying out since March, and which – according to the authorities – allows the “working age population” to be able to buy food at that time.

The two markets in Ciego de Ávila that began working two months ago until midnight – El Cubanito, on Carretera Central, and Sabor Avileño, on Marcial Gómez Street – demonstrate, in the opinion of Yanisley Garlobo, Director of Development and Businesses of Collection, that there is an “improvement in the offer to the population, in the income of the workers and in the consolidation” of the entity.

Garlobo did not mention several obvious problems of this approach: blackouts, which make all commercial transactions difficult; the lack of products – which Acopio tries to mitigate with photographs of both markets, apparently stocked; the corruption of the food sector in the province, about which the official press frequently reports; and the increase in crime and danger in the streets, which means that Cubans do not dare to travel as the night progresses.

There will be more markets “as long as Acopio has the financial and material resources to undertake the maintenance work”

In the opinion of the official, the night markets or “new type” markets work well because they are “chained” with local agricultural MSMEs and give a “renewed image” of commerce. Garlobo said that more establishments in the province will soon join the night operation – three more in Ciego, two in Morón and others, he did not say how many, “in the second half of the year” – but their incorporation will depend on financial support from those that already exist.

There will be more markets “as long as the financial and material resources are within Acopio’s reach to undertake the maintenance work and construction modifications that the properties demand,” he added.

Less clear was the statement that market workers will take on “collaboration in the furrows” when necessary, suggesting that employees will also have to work the land. The practice, warned the Acopio Purchasing specialist, “is part of the company’s ways of doing things.” Indeed, the organization’s social networks show that the workers of these stores have come to “work together” with the famers of Avilanian municipalities, such as Venezuela.

The Acopio Facebook page in Ciego de Ávila has shown several photos showing how they work “successfully” until midnight. Pumpkins, pineapples and papayas appeared on the tables at the El Cubanito market, but there were no signs of customers. The photos were also not taken at night. Acopio, whose motto promises food “available to everyone,” also does not refer to the prices of the food it sells.

The newspaper Invasor, which published the announcement of the “reconversion” of the markets, does not offer good forecasts for food production in Ciego de Ávila. Rather than being “stagnant,” the different crops are “regressing,” admitted the province’s Communist Party newspaper this Monday.

“There is a lack of effectiveness and consistency in the actions,” the authorities of the Provincial Delegation of Agriculture argued when they noted not only the low production, but also the alarming level of crime in the fields of Avila. “In many cases, the monitoring of food procurement is lost and, therefore, it does not reach the people at reasonable prices,” lamented the governor of the province.

“There is the case of some farmers whose land is prepared by state entities or they are given fuel, and they join the ranks of repeated offenders”

The first secretary of the Party in Ciego de Ávila, Julio Gómez, uttered a phrase in a meeting with the producers that went down in history: “Food exists,” he said – alluding to the fact that private points of sale, not state ones, are stocked – the problem is that “from the furrow to the table” there is an entire process that seems destined to “further deteriorate the population’s pockets.”

Their solution: “take stronger measures” with producers, “who violate marketing commitments with open and continuous impunity to established state destinations.” “More drastic provisions such as the dismantling of electrical transformers for irrigation, and even withdrawing land from those who fail to comply or demonstrate their unjustified violation of the leasing terms known as usufruct. There is the case of some farmers whose land is prepared by state entities or they are given fuel, and they join the ranks of repeated offenders,” he alleged.

The formula that summarized the meeting bordered on the utopian: “Arrive with more and cheaper food for the people.”


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