November Begins but No Rice at Cuba’s Ration Stores

The bodega [ration store] on Arango Street, in the Havana neighborhood of Luyanó, November 1, 2023. Such stores would normally be teaming with people at the beginning of the month. (14ymedio)

In large areas of the municipalities of Plaza de la Revolución, Diez de Octubre, Cerro and Centro Habana, the warehouses have not been supplied.

By Juan Diego Rodríguez (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – November has begun, and in front of the bodega [ration store] on Arango Street, in the neighborhood of Luyano in Havana, you don’t see the usual crowding at the beginning of the month. There are no shouts, no pushes, no line of improvised stools for the customers, who wait for hours until it is their turn to buy. So far, only the rationed three pounds of sugar per person have arrived, but none of the most anticipated product: the rice.

With long faces and looking bored, the bodega employees don’t seem to enjoy this quiet panorama. Clueless neighbors’ approach, but most already know that the protagonist of Cuban meals has not yet arrived. “I was told by my mother who lives in Key West [Central Havana],” Lisandro, a father of two children, tells 14ymedio. “We are not the only ones affected.”

This newspaper found that in large areas of the municipalities of Plaza de la Revolución, Diez de Octubre, Cerro and Centro Habana, the bodegas have also not been supplied with the quota of rice that consumers receive monthly. The absence of rice is not something minor, because it forces families to buy food on the free market, in informal networks or in the newly opened premises managed by the MSMEs [micro, small and medium-sized businesses]. In all of them, one pound of the worst-quality rice exceeds 170 pesos, and it rises to 250 in its best version.

The basic basket in Cuba has been reduced over the years. Of more than 20 subsidized items that were once distributed through the bodegas, there are only a few left, which can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But rice had been the most constant in its arrival, due to the fact that its deficit dramatically decreased access to food in the Island’s homes. This November, the tall thin gentleman will be late to appear on the dishes of those who can only eat from the subsidized basic basket.

Behind closed doors, on Arango de Luyano Street itself, some casseroles still have the luxury of containing some grains. Others wait for the shout of “the rice has arrived!” Trying to get there early, people throw themselves down the stairs and the bodega is again filled with people, stools and shopping bags.

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

2 thoughts on “November Begins but No Rice at Cuba’s Ration Stores

  • The Cuban people are saints who are being led by a bunch of very corrupt sinners. How the government ministers manage to sleep at night whilst their people are on the very edge of starvation, oh sorry the government ministers all go to bed with full bellies? Sorry but I love the Cuban people but I will never visit Cuba again whilst these corruptable despots remain in power, it beggars belief how the rest of the free world can just sit by without helping the Cuban people!

  • What keeps Cuba from growing more rice? As food crops go, rice needs only water to flourish. Other crops need fertilizers, specific day and nighttime temperatures, etc. This rice “problem” is self-imposed. Years ago, Cuba SOLD rice to Vietnam. Now, Cuba imports a large amount of rice FROM Vietnam. This has nothing to do with the US embargo and everything to do with the failings of Castro-style socialism.

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