Hour-long lines formed at gas stations in Havana on Monday generated concern among Cubans, after local media reported fuel rationing in at least one province, at a time of an acute economic crisis that has left food shortages. and medications in Cuba.
Geobel Quinterocoordinator of programs of the provincial government of killingstold local media that rationing had begun in that province on Sunday, but downplayed the issue and attributed the deficit mainly to distribution problems.
“It is not a consequence of a fuel deficit in the country”Quintero said, as published by the Matanzas newspaper Girón. “This is a temporary problem”he added.
Quintero said in the report that the state company Transcupet, which supplies fuel to the country’s service stations, was working with only 62% of its delivery trucks.. Logistical problems had hampered distribution, according to the report.
Word of the rationing spread rapidly through the neighboring, densely populated province of Havanawhere the remaining fuel ran out rapidly on Sunday, leaving little gasoline and diesel available at only a few stations in the city on Monday.
“I’ve been here since 7:00 in the morning and now it’s 11:30, four hours”said Jorge Páez, 53, a self-employed worker who waited in a mile-long line to refuel his Soviet-era motorcycle and sidecar. “This is a situation that repeats itself every three months and the problem is never resolved”he pointed.
The Cuban government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Officials in Cuba have blamed the economic crisis on the embargo of United States that has lasted for decades, reinforced due to the severe sanctions undertaken by former President Donald Trump, who has also persecuted foreign imports of fuel to the island.
Cuba’s fuel supply also suffers from a decline in domestic production, limited refining capacity and dependence on its ally. Venezuelawhich is suffering from its own production problems, according to Jorge Pinonprofessor of energy policy and expert at the University of Texason Austin.
“Cuba’s current fuel challenge is the result of low refinery production and its inability to buy (with cash) gasoline and diesel on international oil markets to supplement its deliveries of Venezuelan oil, due to high prices.”, Pinon pointed out.
The long lines on the streets reflect a deepening economic crisis that was reinforced by tough new US sanctions in 2019 and made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism, a key driver of foreign exchange, has also struggled to recover, leaving the country without the cash it needs to buy food, fuel, medicine, raw materials and spare parts.
“This is getting ugly, very ugly. I don’t know how this is going to end.”, said Jorge Luis Méndez, 55, a state worker who was waiting for the arrival of a gasoline truck to refuel a gas station on the Havana coast. “There are too many problems but well, here we are”he added.
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