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Shortages hit Cuba, raising fears of new economic crisis

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Pura Castell walks to a government-run butcher shop to buy chicken after failing to find chicken the previous day in Bauta, Cuba, on April 12. A neighbour informed her that chicken had arrived at the government store that distributes almost free monthly food rations.


After two decades of relative stability fuelled by cheap Venezuelan oil, shortages of food and medicine have once again become a serious daily problem for millions of Cubans.

Stores no longer routinely stock eggs, flour, chicken, cooking oil, rice, powdered milk, and ground turkey, among other products. These basics disappear for days or weeks. Hours-long lines appear within minutes of trucks showing up with new supplies. Shelves are empty again within hours.

A plunge in aid from Venezuela and poor performances in sectors including nickel mining, sugar and tourism have left the communist state $1.5 billion in debt to the vendors that supply products ranging from frozen chicken to equipment for grinding grain into flour, according to former Economy Minister José Luis Rodríguez.