As the Venezuela crisis hits Cuba

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In view of the crisis in Venezuela and the increasing supply shortages, the fear of hard times is growing in Cuba. Raúl Castro has called on the people to “the worst” to prepare. But how?

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Castro: Cubans set on bottlenecks

Well, clearly he was worried, says Eduardo Fabra. How many Cubans has seen the 57-year-old carpenter this Wednesday Raúl Castro’s speech before the Parliament on television. Actually, it was the proclamation of the new Constitution. But the former President and party Chairman, called on the population, in economically difficult times. Although measures would be taken to the economy resilient in the face of numerous “new obstacles imposed on us by the tightening of the Blockade”, said Castro. But he added: “We need to be aware of the fact that we are faced with additional problems and that the Situation in the coming months might worsen.”

On the alarm raised, makes Fabra a uneasy face. “I have a family I need to take care of me.” His two adult children studying and living at home, his wife works half-day. The Situation close to go to him, says Fabra. “Every day you have to think about how you will solve the supply problems.”

Concerned: Eduardo Fabra, a carpenter from Havana

No flour, no eggs, no paper

That difficult times are pending, do not sense talk to the Cubans since Castro’s. In the past weeks and months, it always came back to supply shortages of flour, eggs, chicken and finally cooking oil are scarce. The products in the stores, they are sold out quickly. Per Person currently, only two litres would be sold to edible oil, told Fabra. For a carton of eggs, the cost in the public sale at the equivalent of around one Euro, is required on the black market the Three – to four-fold. Compared with the income the prices were very high. “You’re going to be forced to the black market to buy and work with black, too.”

Economy Minister Alejandro Gil Fernández founded the supply bottlenecks in chicken eggs with problems during the Import of bird feed. The shortage of edible oil was, however, to damage in a production plant, which had been fixed in the meantime. At the beginning of the month, the government announced that the party newspaper Granma and other leaves would appear on individual days with a reduced page extent, or not at all. Reason: Lack Of Paper. It is the first Time since the “special period” crisis years at the beginning of the 1990s, the government resorts to such a measure.

Paper shortage hits, the party press

“It gets worse”

Therefore, many fear that the serious supply could return to the issues again – along with power shutdowns. The crisis at the beginning of the nineties, with the end of the Soviet Union almost overnight, a large proportion of Cuba’s foreign trade fell and the country plunged into a deep Depression, is deeply rooted in the collective consciousness of the population. “The current Situation will worsen,” says Fabra, with a view to the geopolitical situation.

The economic and political crisis in Cuba, the tightest of allies, the Venezuelan government, in fact, increasingly, also on the island is noticeable. The oil deliveries from Caracas decreased by more than half. According to experts, Cuba would have to raise about two billion US dollars in the year, in addition, to cover the own needs, should collapse, the Venezuelan Oil supply completely. Because of Venezuela works by the self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó and his allies in Washington.

Last week, the U.S. imposed sanctions against shipping companies and tankers transporting Oil from Venezuela to Cuba. Previously, Washington had already activated a previously suspended clause of the so-called Helms-Burton act. Since then, Cuban companies seized after the Revolution and nationalized property use can be, to the US courts for damages sued. The tightening of sanctions aims mainly to bring in potential investors with uncertainty. And so Cuba has problems, much-needed attract foreign capital.

Warnings from the old champion: Raul Castro (center) in front of the national Assembly in Havana

The private sector helps?

But there are some things that speaks against the Thesis of a new “special period”. So Venezuela is still Cuba’s most important trading partner, but the bilateral trade between the two countries today, only a quarter of the circumference of 2012. Cuba is trying to diversify its economic relations. The European Union, particularly in Spain and France, has gained importance, but also Russia, China or countries such as Japan and Qatar. In comparison to the time of the beginning of the 1990s, the tourism flushes foreign currency in the state Treasury, as well as the use of Cuban Doctors and nurses abroad. In addition, today, there is a private sector, in the more than half a Million Cubans are employed.

It is also Raúl Castro noted in his speech: “It is a matter, in the acute Phase of the special period of the nineties, to return; today, we have a different position through the diversification of the economy. But we must prepare always for the worst.” The comment of the carpenter Fabra: Who could, way to go. Him self, he says, the only hope that it is not at the end yet so bad.