Shortages of edibles
It happened much earlier than what economists predicted to the inept “president” Miguel Díaz-Canel. Food prices were capped by the government just a few days ago and they’re already hurting Cubans, as there are shortages of edibles from the Westernmost Punta de Maisí to the Easternmost Cabo de San Antonio.
With the price caps imposed to the private sector, the dictatorship expects to avoid inflation after enacting a 7 billion pesos salary raise that benefits non-productive sectors. The designated president stubbornly ignored experts’ forecasts warning that price limits would only cause more inflation and scarcity.
In Havana (2,2 million consumers) economist Enix Berrio revealed that “the wheeled carts selling vegetables are disappearing (…) from the streets, since the price caps are hurting the supply side and aggravating the crisis…”
In Santiago de Cuba, 800 kilometers away, the youth leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Carlos Amel Oliva, reported that, in the second most populated city of the island you can hardly see on the streets these private-owned wheeled carts that sell agricultural products.
Agricultural production is simply not profitable
In Bayamo, Granma, also on the Eastern region of the island, farmer Emiliano González, confessed to Radio Martí that they would give the crops other uses rather than selling them to the government at the enforced prices. González is a signatory of the Good, Cheap Abundant Food for Cuba project (ABBA), a proposal of radical agricultural reforms seeking to bolster the Cuban people’s right to adequate food. “We have to buy a lot of supplies to produce food, so with these stubborn government’s prices, agricultural production is simply not profitable (…) these coercive measures the State just put in place are going to fuel scarcity,” he said.
From Camagüey, Leydis Tabares reported that “even pumpkins have disappeared” from the markets in recent weeks. “There is nothing to buy. Maybe some green beans in the morning, period. No sweet potatoes, no plantains,” she explained.
From central Cuba’s Santa Clara, self-employed worker Yoel Espinosa reported that the supplies of roots and tubers, beans and vegetables have collapsed. He remarked that Villaclarean farmers had to absorb high costs to produce their crops. “They will suffer big losses if they sell their products at the capped prices.” From Quemado de Güines, also in Villa Clara, farmer Ibar González explained: “Corn is nowhere to be found in the markets, because farmers prefer to sell it at 500 pesos per bushel as poultry food, rather than selling it to the State at 220 pesos”.
Meanwhile in San Juan y Martínez, Pinar del Río, on the Western end of the island, farmer Rolando Pupo emphasized that many colleagues opted for storing their products, or use them to feed the animals, rather than sell them to the government. He remarked that prices should be dictated by supply and demand, and complained that officials did not take into account the absence of a reasonably priced wholesale market where they could buy their supplies.
Certainly, neither Diaz-Canel nor his bureaucrats seemed to understand that, since there is no wholesale market, farmers would acquire their supplies in State-owned retail markets at State-inflated prices, or otherwise on the black market at equally high prices.
If farmers cannot cover their costs, or earn too little, they will produce less, dedicate their crops to other purposes, or sell on the black market at more profitable prices. Yet the Castro regime luminaries insist on strong-arming them with their severe economic crime laws. After all, they can eat whatever they want, whenever they want and as much as they want.
Cubans will go hungry
Yet things are looking bad. Right now the government does not have enough hard currency to import food and, contrary to all logic, is choking the private producers. Unbelievable. If they insist on price control, Cubans will go hungry, or they’ll end eating much less. Not only because of the growing food shortages, but because agricultural products will start selling at higher prices on the black market, as the farmers, after covering costs and securing a profit, add a hidden fee to their markup in order to protect themselves from trading illegally. For retirees and other low-income people, those higher prices may mean starvation.
As Moisés Leonardo Rodríguez, another signatory of the ABBA project, put it: “(Vladimir) Lenin ─the founder of communism─ said that the praxis is the only valid criterion for the truth. Cuba’s decision-makers, who claim to be Leninists, should stick to this standard and stop improvising and hurting the Cuban people while they go on living and eating like millionaires”.