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Long lines for fuel across Cuba sparking concerns over supply, rationing -Breaking


Dave Sherwood

HAVANA (Reuters) – Hours-long lines formed at gas stations in Cuba´s capital Havana on Monday after local media reported rationing of fuel in at least one province amid a biting economic crisis that has already left food and medicine in short supply across the island.

Geobel Quintero was the Matanzas province government’s program coordinator. However, Quintero downplayed the issue and blamed distribution issues for the rationing that began on Sunday.

Quintero said that the problem is not caused by a fuel shortage in the country to Giron, a state-owned province newspaper. This is temporary.

Quintero said in the report that state-run company Transcupet, which provides fuel to the country´s service stations, was working with only 62% of its delivery trucks. The report stated that logistical problems had hindered distribution.

The word quickly spread through Havana’s neighboring province. There, the fuel left over was snapped up quickly Sunday. On Monday, there was little diesel or gas available at Havana stations.

“I´ve been here since 7 this morning and now its 11:30, four hours,” said Jorge Paez, 53, a self-employed worker waiting in a nearly kilometer-long line to fuel up his Soviet-era motorcycle and sidecar. “This situation repeats every three to four months… and it is never solved.”

Cuba’s government didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.

Cuban officials have blamed both the U.S. embargo for decades and the more severe sanctions imposed by Donald Trump to prevent fuel imports from the country.

Cuba´s ailing fuel supply is also a function of declining domestic production, limited refining capacity and reliance on ally Venezuela, which is suffering production problems of its own, according to Jorge Piñon, a professor and energy policy expert at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Cuba’s current fuel challenge is as a result of low refinery production and their inability to purchase (with cash) gasoline and diesel in the international oil markets to supplement their Venezuelan oil deliveries, due to high oil prices,” Piñon said.

Long lines reflect an economic crisis. This was exacerbated in 2019 by new U.S. Sanctions and aggravated by the outbreak of the coronavirus virus pandemic.

Tourist, which is a major driver of foreign trade, also has struggled to recover. This leaves the country with little cash for essential items like food, fuel and medicines.

“It´s getting ugly, very ugly. We don´t know how this will end,” said Jorge Luis Mendez, 55, a state worker who was waiting for a gas truck to arrive to replenish a station on Havana´s waterfront. There are many issues, but we keep moving.

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