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article imageEconomic crisis forces widespread rationing in Cuba

By Karen Graham     May 11, 2019 in World
Havana - The Cuban government announced Friday that it is launching widespread rationing of chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap, and other basic products in the face of a grave economic crisis.
Commerce Minister Betsy Díaz Velázquez told the state-run Cuban News Agency the government plans to use various forms of rationing to deal with the shortage of staple foods which she blames on the US trade embargo and hoarding, according to the Associated Press.
Economists are also putting a lot of the blame on a drop in aid from Venezuela where the collapse of the state-run oil company has resulted in a nearly two-thirds drop in shipments of subsidized fuel that Cuba uses for power and to earn hard currency on the open market.
Cuba imports 70 percent of its food from abroad, and hard currency is what pays for the imports. Cuba has tried to become more resilient by instituting a number of agricultural reforms over the years, but this has not been successful for the island nation, reports the BBC.
The Trump administration announced new sanctions against Venezuela and Nicaragua that went into effect on May 2, as well as restrictions on Cuban visas and travel. This was done by the U.S. in an attempt to put pressure on Maduro's regime in Venezuela and the countries they see as sustaining it, reports CNN.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton has denounced Venezuela  Nicaragua and Cuba as "a troi...
US National Security Advisor John Bolton has denounced Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba as "a troika of tyranny" in the western hemisphere
Ration books in Cuba
The Cuban economy crashed with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, plunging the country of 11 million people into a decade long period of misery and hunger. This lasted until the arrival of subsidized Venezuelan oil in the early 2000s. Cuba pays roughly $2 billion a year for the nearly 70 percent of the food it imports into the country.
However, the period of relative prosperity appears to have ended with the embargo on Venezuelan oil imposed by the U.S. Food staples and other necessary products are sold in state-run stores. There has been limited rationing of a few items for years, with stores limiting the number of items like bottles of cooking oil that a single shopper can purchase.
Every Cuban receives a ration book that allows them to buy small quantities of basic goods like rice, beans, eggs, and sugar each month for a payment equivalent to a few U.S. cents. For Cubans who can afford more pricier goods, the cost of items like fancy jams is usually two to three times the price in their country of origin.
Now, stores have been told to limit the number of packages of powdered milk, soap, rice, bean, peas, and eggs. This stiffer rationing will also affect private store owners who buy rationed goods at the state-run stores in the absence of wholesale companies.
The stricter rationing is also an attempt to discourage hoarding by people who have the money to buy seemingly unlimited quantities of fresh meats and other necessities. Cuba maintains a total monopoly on wholesale commerce, imports, and exports. There is almost no access to goods from the country's growing private sector.
More about Cuba, Economic crisis, Rationing, us tariffs, Venezuela oil embargo
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