Cuba’s Liquefied Gas Nightmare

Photo: AFP / OnCuba

The line for buying liquefied gas is just as bad as the line to buy chicken, and your turn can take days to come.

By Esther Zoza

HAVANA TIMES – Going from one worry to another is the norm here in Cuba.  At the beginning of the week, my mother woke me up early in the morning to go and take my place in the line for gas.

The line for buying liquefied gas is just as bad as the line to buy chicken. You not only have to take your place in line well before dawn, your turn can take days to come.

You need to be stoic and responsible to face a line at 4 AM. We are designed to provide for our loved ones. I wonder how you tell children and the elderly that they can’t have breakfast. They know they only have bodega ration store bread rolls. They know they can’t have a snack, but we can’t even toast the old bread – which parents and older siblings go without so they can have it – in a pan in the kitchen.

Of course, I’m talking about the children of workers. These workers that can’t buy a bag of bread for 220 pesos and much less buy a cylinder of gas illegally.

You develop an unusual camaraderie with other people in the line after three dawns of sharing irritation, sips of coffee and cigarettes.  Voices break loose and you’re surprised to see that the poorest are normally the better informed.       

How is it possible that the only liquefied gas factory in the country, based in Matanzas, doesn’t have a contingency plan? That they didn’t take into account the country’s volatile financial situation? How could they not guarantee the purchase of raw materials and foresee a swell in customers and fuel needed to transport cylinders?

It’s very easy to get the wheel of irresponsibility and lack of foresight going. Blaming others is a very Cuban habit. Citing high prices of raw materials, having to buy it from different countries, more expensive shipping company fees, limited fuel and a long list of other inconceivable etcetera’s gives rise to fewer questions. The reality is that customers depend on this service, we must deal with this incompetence.

With these thoughts bouncing around in my mind, as we say in Havana speak, I went home with my cylinder on my back. I took out a jute bag, the kind they don’t make anymore; and I went looking for coal just in case.

Read more from Esther Zoza’s diary here.

Esther Zoza

I was born in the 60s. I love my country and its simple and sacrificed people. I like the arts, particularly literature. In music I enjoy traditional and contemporary trova, also opera and instrumental music. I respect all religions. I like esoteric and mystical subjects; I also enjoy the enigmas of the universe. I believe above all things in God. I am persistent and disciplined to meet my goals. I like the countryside. I live near the sea. I believe in relationships and love in all its manifestations.