HAVANA TIMES, June 22 (IPS) — For a good while Cubans have faced a scarcity of provisions available through the island’s network of outlets selling food staples in regular pesos —apart from the scanty basic commodities that each inhabitant receives in the neighborhood grocery stores known as bodegas.
However, added to this fact, the buildings housing most of these bodegas, stores, and market vendor stands show fading paint and structural deterioration. They are dark and humid, some with severely damaged ceilings, causing workers to move products to warehouses at the first sign of rain.
During last year’s hurricanes, in one of these stores on the periphery of the capital, the shopkeepers had to move sacks of rice and sugar to another facility that was in better shape in order save the goods from being spoiled by the leaking roof.
Therefore, this year the city’s Food Commerce Company plans to invest in improving the condition of the stores and markets of the Cuban capital. Jorge Almaguer Sanchez, local director of the company, explained that more than 200 stores, of the 1,900 existing in Havana city, have been remodeled and sanitized.
The director indicated that mixed markets —where state and private sellers offer their products—, will be repaired as well, especially those located along main arteries of the city, some of which are in very poor shape.
The investment plan also includes facilities that make snacks for secondary schools and where around 30,000 people living alone including low income people, elderly and pregnant women receive subsidized prepared food.
For the summer, there are also plans to create hotdog stands and assist vendors located along the eastern beaches.
The plan also includes building food and service facilities in the Monte Barreto ecological park, in Playa municipality. That project will be finished soon, along with others along the city’s western beaches.
As a prelude to summer, as is already the tradition, 20 food vendor facilities will be opened along Havana’s “malecón” boardwalk, from mobile units to fixed centers, in addition to others operated by the Palmares chain.
Notwithstanding, there is room to wonder about the real possibilities of these seasonal facilities to serve beach-goers, in the midst of a national financial contraction and considering that most of the proposed foods (snacks, candy, etc.) are either imported or are made on the island using some imported ingredients.
Almaguer stated that, along with the plan of maintenance and reparation of food vendor facilities, amusement parks and night-spots will soon undergo the same renovations in order to guarantee better quality services.
Translation by Havana Times