Nearly three out of every four Cubans in the country now eat less than ever before and skip meals because they have no food on hand. This does not happen in Burundi, Chad, or Niger, but in Cuba, and in the third decade of the twenty-first century.
This is revealed by a recent CubaData survey , in which 70.8% of respondents responded that they eat less food than ever before in their lives, and that there are days when they barely taste a bite. 28% of survey participants said they stay hungry every day of the month, because they do not have enough food.
The most worrying thing here is that that study was taken from April to December 2022 with monthly interviews up to 2,106 pardons, totaling 16,006. Crop and livestock production has further fallen since then, and there is less foreign exchange to import food. In other words, today that situation must have inevitably worsened.
MANGO AT BREAKFAST AND AT NIGHT, THANKS TO THAT WE SURVIVE
Recently, a report by Diario de Cuba revealed that in Santiago de Cuba, if it were not for mangoes, people would not be able to feed themselves. “We eat mango at breakfast and mango at night, thanks to that we survive; When the mango runs out, we’ll see what happens,” said one retiree.
In other words, Cuba is already on the cusp of a famine not seen in Cuba since the times of the genocidal Spanish colonial governor Valeriano Weyler, with his “Reconcentration” of 1896, that had tens of thousands of people dying of hunger.
In addition, this time hunger hits Cubans doubly: In one direction by way of the staggering food shortage, and in the other direction by way of the uncontrolled inflation that plagues the country; this inflation caused by a combination of poor and incompetent communist governing systems. The prices of many staple agricultural products triple in three or four months while wages stay stagnant. Overall, what the government does is aggravate everything with each passing day.
Let’s take a look at the scarcity and prices of five fundamental foods in the Cuban diet: rice, beans, pork, milk and vegetables.
Purchasing five pounds of rice devours 60% of a monthly minimum wage in Cuba.
Rice; this valuable cereal was never lacking in the diet of Cubans for almost 200 years, until the Castros arrived. In 1959, national consumption was 700,000 tons, but in 2022, only 120,000 tons were produced and there is no money to import the missing rice. The price in January 2023 was 170 pesos per pound of rice, and now in July it is 250 pesos. Just 5 pounds of rice gobbles up 40% of a monthly minimum wage (which is 2,100 pesos).
Beans, key for their vegetable protein content, are now at 160 pesos a pound. The national consumption is about 70,000 tons but the country only 23,000 tons and there is no foreign currency to import the missing 47,000 tons. Before 1959, the island produced 70% of the national consumption of beans and the other 30% was imported. Today, it is the other way around.
Pork went from 200,000 tons produced in 2017, to only 25,000 tons produced in 2022, and no one knows how many tons it will be in 2023. The dictatorship pays producers prices that do not cover their production costs but continues to force them to hand over their production to the state. The regime hands down sentences of “illicit enrichment” for breeders who produce quantities higher than those authorized by the communist Big Brother.
IF PORK “SHOWS UP”, A 4 POUND PURCHASE SWALLOWS A MINIMUM WAGE.
The regime does spend foreign dollars, many of them, on building hotels, while drastically reducing the import of feed, and that of corn and soybeans to produce feed. That’s why the pound of pork ranges between 450 and 500 pesos per pound. That is, 4 pounds of pork takes almost an entire monthly minimum wage.
As for cow’s milk, it is no longer regularly received by children up to 7 years old, nor by the elderly on medical diets. The regime admitted that there are fewer cows for milking than 30 years ago, about 300,000 thousand, for 10.6 million inhabitants.
Before Castro’s “Agrarian Reform” there were 940,000 cows for milking, which produced almost 1,000 million liters of fresh milk, at a rate of half a liter of milk per day for each inhabitant. Today it does not produce even a third of what it did 65 years ago, and for almost twice as many inhabitants.
For the rest, so far in 2023 the production of spices and vegetables has decreased sharply, as reported by the government itself, to the point that there is no sweet potatoes grown on the fertile tropical island.
NOT EVEN THE SO-CALLED SWEET POTATO CAN KILL CUBANS HUNGER.
“My mother told me that during the time of Gerardo Machado, his family went through so many needs that they could only eat corn flour and sweet potato, (…) Well, there is not even that now, I can’t afford to buy sweet potatoes at that price.”
This is how the 66-year-old man from Villa Clara named William (he did not say his last name) summarized to the independent newspaper “14yMedio” how high the level of inflation derived from the shortage of agricultural products in Cuba had become. The sweet potato was at 15 pesos per pound in January 2023, and by July it was at 50 pesos, rising by 233%; William clarified “and most are chopped (…) you have to throw away a good part” of what you buy.” That food was never missing in Cuba or at the table even in the humblest of families. It was given so easily, inexpensively and so abundantly, that sweet potatoes were thrown to the pigs (they love it).
In short, hunger in Cuba is “over dark brown.”, as Cubans say, meaning far overdue. No sweet potato is at hand. Three Cubans out of four eat less and worse than ever before in their lives.
It is necessary to denounce before the world this crime against humanity that in slow motion commits the tyranny of Raúl “the Cruel” Castro.
*Translated by: Kiele Cabrera