Cuba is gradually paralyzed due to the serious crisis of fuel shortages, to which there is no solution in the short term. The queues at the few well-stocked gas stations in Havana can last several days to refuel, in some provinces the sale of gasoline and diesel has been rationed, and their dispatch to private vehicles has even been prohibited to prioritize those for public use. such as ambulances, taxis and funeral cars. Some universities have returned to online classes, as students and teachers find it increasingly difficult to go to classrooms, and in the midst of this crisis, one of the worst in living memory, the Government has just announced the suspension of the massive parade for May 1 in the Plaza de la Revolución in the capital. In its place there will be small marches in the municipalities, to which attendees must go on foot. It is the first time since the triumph of the revolution that this symbolic celebration has been canceled for economic reasons, although in 2020 and 2021 it was suspended due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The parade for Workers’ Day It is not just any commemoration in Cuba. Since 1959, on this date, the authorities have always organized a great mass event in the Plaza de la Revolución, mobilizing tens of thousands of people through the work centers, making hundreds of buses available to the participants and dedicating millions of resources to guarantee the success of the celebration. This was the case even last year, when the crisis was already biting hard but the State spared no expense, and one million Cubans attended the march in Havana, according to official figures.
In the official political imaginary, The May Day parade has always functioned as the main “show of massive support for the revolution and socialism”, and it has been presented in this way even in the most difficult moments, such as after the historic protests of July 11, 2021. Until just a few days ago, when the new Parliament was established and President Miguel Díaz-Canel was re-elected for a second term, on April 19, the decision was to maintain the mobilization of support despite the fuel supply problems. But at the last moment the authorities have reconsidered this position and have opted for the “rationalization of resources” given the criticality of the situation, which threatens to paralyze the country if there is no prompt solution.
“The situation of the fuel determines the announced modification”, affirmed Ulises Guilarte, the general secretary of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, the only union, when announcing the news. In its place, he explained, there will be small acts “convened as forums to denounce the obstacles to development programs due to the iron economic blockade” and to demand Cuba’s removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, in which the Biden administration keeps the island. On this first of May, Guilarte said, “the main recognition will be for the people for their capacity for resistance and commitment to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.”
Cuba has gone through numerous specific crises of shortages of fuel in recent times, but none like this, all analysts agree, and worst of all, there is no light on the horizon. The explanations given by the Minister of Energy and by the country’s president himself attributed the deficit to the “non-compliance” of the supplying countries, which, they said, are also going through a “complex energy situation”, in a veiled reference to Venezuela. The only thing that has been reported is that the shortage will last at least until next month, but without clarifying how the country intends to return to normality.
The current fuel crisis, to which must be added the of the domestic gas supply, the high prices of food and the return of the blackouts – which, although they have decreased, are continuing – are increasingly affecting all Cubans and all sectors of the economy. Public transport stops, taxis are becoming fewer and more expensive, and the owners of restaurants and bars assure that these days their businesses are operating at 50%, since people who have sufficient purchasing power to be able to consume in them do not It goes out to save gas.Likewise, the owners of the new small and recently created private companies indicate that it is increasingly difficult to work and that they have had to drastically reduce their productions, and the same happens with the large state companies, which have had to reduce plans and shifts, while the distribution of merchandise has also been affected because the trucks and transports that should do so do not have oil.
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