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Bread is the latest item in short supply in Cuba

Photo taken Dec. 12, 2018, showing people waiting to buy bread at a Havana bakery. Bread is the latest food item to be in short supply on the communist island. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa

Photo taken Dec. 12, 2018, showing people waiting to buy bread at a Havana bakery. Bread is the latest food item to be in short supply on the communist island. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa

EFE

Long lines at bakeries, murmured complaints on the street but fiery ones on the social networks and, finally, an official explanation: Cuba is suffering a shortage of flour due to problems at its mills, a situation that has made bread the most sought-after food item on the communist island these days.

In recent weeks, packages of flour have disappeared from the shelves in the state-run stores and, with them, a good portion of the bread for sale.

The situation has also led to a shortage of pastries and other confectionery products, which are in demand all year but particularly so at the yearend holidays, given that Cubans are crazy about sweets and want them available for all their celebrations.

In a tour of several bakeries and pastry shops in Havana, EFE determined that most of them were only selling the small breadrolls rationed in the ration books, while the few establishments that were selling loaves of bread were easily located due to the lines of people at the door waiting to buy a product that was selling out fast.

“We’ve gone to six (bakeries) to see if we can get some (bread),” a man waiting in line at one of the bakeries in the town of Playa told EFE.

Another person said “This is milled gold.”

At a state-run bakery in the Vedado neighborhood, one of the workers there explained that there are establishments “that have gone for days without making bread,” although he said that in his shop, by chance, each day they had received “a bit” of flour that had enabled them to turn out at least a minimal amount of bread.

Cubans have also been declaring their outrage on the social networks, and some have even messaged President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Twitter to ask him “What’s going on with the bread?”

Given that delicate nature of the situation, Industry and Food Minister Iris Quiñones came out this week on a Cuban television program to provide an explanation, admitting that “there’s a general tension throughout the country” regarding the shortage of flour.

Quiñones joined the list of government ministers who in recent days have appeared in prime time to provide explanations for assorted issues that have gotten people riled, including spotty Internet availability on mobile phones, urban transport and new rules for self-employed workers.

At the beginning of 2018, Cuba had estimated it would experience a shortage of 30,000 tons of wheat flour but, in the end, that deficit totaled 70,000 tons, and now, Quiñones said, the “tension” over the matter is at its worst so far, although she added that authorities are working “intensively” to alleviate the situation.


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