Cuba in Slow Motion over Lack of Fuel

The trending question in the social networks of Cubans is: “Where is there fuel?”

Long line at a service station in Havana.

From Cubaencuento

HAVANA TIMES – Last Wednesday night and early Thursday, Ernesto Mirabal practically did not sleep: this Cuban taxi driver had to make a line of almost five hours at a gas station, at a time when the lack of fuel forces the socialist island to live in slow motion, reports the AFP.

“I arrived about 11 o’clock and threw gas at four, because at seven I had service (a client),” says Mirabal, 48. Otherwise, I would have had to “dedicate (his) day of work.”

“Now I have gasoline for today and tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow I have to go back to the odyssey,” he adds and points out that among his colleagues there is an environment “of much stress and much uncertainty.”

Since President Miguel Díaz-Canel on September 11 called for “austerity and savings” of fuel, due to US sanctions against shipping companies that transport Venezuelan oil, winds of panic blow for a sector of the population that ran to stock up on fuels.

Venezuela is the main political ally and supplier of crude oil on highly favorable terms to the island.

In Cuba, which connected 3G (mobile internet) in December, social networks are running at full speed during this crisis, which the authorities call “temporary.”

The images of endless lines at the service stations are multiplied on Twitter and Facebook, and WhatsApp groups were created around the question: “Where is there fuel?”

The drastic savings measures implemented in recent days, make many Cubans evoke the dark days of the “Special Period”, the serious economic crisis of the 90s, after the collapse of the USSR, the main financial and energy support of the Island.

Some of these measures are identical to those taken 25 years ago: public transport was reduced to a minimum, while police officers stop all state cars to force them to carry passengers.
In the sugar cane fields, Cuba’s main export product, thousands of oxen will replace the machines.

In companies and public administration offices the workday is reduced, it is forbidden to turn on the air conditioning equipment and there are power cuts at some times of the day. Some employees are unable to work and others work from home.

Likewise, the frequency of garbage collection in the streets of Havana was reduced, a situation that complicates the fight against dengue, as recognized by the Ministry of Health.

Economist Omar Everleny notes that the fuel panic situation has a simple explanation: “People think that it will be worse later, despite what the authorities are saying,” who promised a return to normalcy in October.

“People think it’s going to end and then everyone is trying to hoard as much fuel as possible,” adds Everleny.
At gas stations, many drivers refuel and fill fuel cans, despite signs that prohibit this practice. “If you are going to wait in a line of three blocks, you are going to buy four, five times what you bought before,” explains the economist.

In the face of the crisis, the government multiplies the reassuring messages. Díaz-Canel asks “to think like a country”, with repeated calls to unity.

“Imperialism will not make our lives bitter or take our sleep away. We face this situation, we systematize saving measures, we will prepare, we will grow and we will win,” he tweeted Thursday.

However, the economic horizon seems bleak. “If you have paralyzed the country, where are you going to achieve growth?” Everleny wonders and notes that tourism figures in the first half showed a decline in European visitors, which will soon be added to that of US citizens, who since June have been banned from traveling to the Island on cruise ships.

Everleny believes that the current shortage reveals “a currency crisis” in the country, unable to buy oil outside Venezuela, where it has payment facilities in exchange for sending thousands of doctors.

With respect to the promised return to normalcy in October, he warns that “is to return to a period of low growth and uncertainty.”



13 thoughts on “Cuba in Slow Motion over Lack of Fuel

  • The decline in European visitors will be exacerbated by the collapse yesterday of Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel agency (178 years). Currently 300,000 German and 150,000 British tourists are dependent upon the UK government finding ways of getting them back from their holidays. Airports have been sequestering Thomas Cook aircraft until overdue landing fees are paid – one wonders how many of Cuba’s airports have overdue accounts. Then there are the rooms booked in Cuban hotels by the company. In Germany Cook’s traded as Condor. Cruise ships pall into insignificance (the passengers eat, sleep and drink onboard) compared with the collapse of Cook most of whose clients stayed in hotels for two weeks.
    Diaz-Canel is powerless in the face of commercial reality. Calls for unity are meaningless.

    Reply
  • This has gone way too far. The Trump administration is getting way too big for its britches by its draconian sanctions by blocking oil shipments to a country that has done no harm to the U.S. Ordinary people are suffering. The UN needs to get involved as well as China and Russia.

    Reply
    • Done no harm? Simply not true. Nonetheless, the sanctions being applied are intended to affect the dictatorship in Venezuela by discouraging shippers from transporting Venezuelan oil. The impact of these sanctions on Cuba are collateral damage. Cuba is free to buy Mexican or Brazilian oil.

      Reply
      • Moses, how has Cuba harmed the US without provocations? I assume you are referring to the Missel Crisis, which took a year after the Bay of Pigs, which was a provocation by the US. Or maybe you’re referring to the Mariel Boatlift when President Jimmy Carter said “any Cuban” who wanted to leave would be welcome. Cuba had and still has a right to defend itself.

        Reply
        • Methinks thou hath a failing memory Curt. It was Fidel Castro Ruz who urged Nikita Khrushchev to make a nuclear strike upon the US. The whole world let alone the US, has reason to be thankful that Khrushchev denied Fidel Castro’s urging as it would have inevitably started a Third World War.
          Of course you may suggest that such a suggestion is not provocative – but few would agree.
          It is arguable that if John Kennedy had provided air support to the Cuban exiles who invaded at the Bay of Pigs, the consequences would have been different, but the US did not provide that support. That in turn reflects the agreement made between Kennedy and Khrushchev that the US would not intervene militarily in Cuba – an agreement to which it has adhered. You may recall also that the removal of US nuclear weapons from Turkey formed part of that agreement.

          Reply
          • One part of the agreement made between the USSR and US at the time that was never observed was the provision that the UN would inspect the removal of the rockets from Cuba. Fidel would never consent to the presence of UN observers overseeing his fiefdom!

    • “Done no harm”? The Cuban state gave political asylum to the convicted murderer, black malcontent, cop-killer and prison escapee, Joanne Chesimard (“/k/a “Assata Shakur”), as well as innumerable other American plane hijackers and assorted other political wackos

      It also provided financial and logistical support to the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de la Liberacion Nacional Puertorriquena) during the Seventies and Eighties enabling them to plant bombs in public buildings throughout the US, thus killing many American civilians.

      Reply
  • This is all ancient history and Cuba was not only that threatened by the U.S, but by a independent militant exiles. Let’s stick to the present. After the Missile Crisis, Castro never again made threats to the U.S after the treaty between Kennedy and Khrushchev. By the way Castro for some strange reason had a lot of respect for JFK.

    Reply
    • Any respect that Fidel Castro had for JFK was based upon an envy for even greater power.

      Reply
      • Well, Fidel eventually surpassed JFK in building a personal fortune even greater than that of the Kennedy dynasty!

        Reply
  • Free Choice: Starting with Venezuela & Following With Cuba. Free Choice as any Free Open Nation, There Nations Will Breath Once again After The Darkest Before There Dawn Rising. When We Care More For There People When there Governments Have Forgotten, That is why it is There Choice The People have Spoken For Change of there Choice. Will The People Stay at Peace Yes: Will The Government Except The Peoples Choice in Peace of Change.

    Reply
  • Are we witnessing a fight between a monkey and an elephant ! The Monkey will win.

    Reply
  • To witness the End of there Fight, As a Canadian getting to meet Cubans that have Made it out & returned to Cuba for there Vacation, Or as one Cuban Lady explained as we met in Baracoa, Living many years in the U.S & found her future life in Canada, Telling her story of what was taken from her Family after the 59th year. Asking How many Need to Leave until Cuba is No Longer a Nation, Yes That Fight To Keep the Population from walking away. No One Wins.

    Reply

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