Reports from Cuba: Police return to ‘guarding’ hard currency stores in Havana

Juan Diego Rodriguez reports in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Police Return to ‘Guarding’ the Hard Currency Stores in Havana

Numerous “red berets” guarded the entrances and shops of the Plaza de Carlos III in Havana.

The picture offered by the Plaza de Carlos III in Havana was not normal, with numerous “red berets”, known within the Armed Forces as “prevention troops”, guarding the entrances and shops of the market on Wednesday morning. The same thing happened in La Época, in Galiano and Neptuno.

“Normally there is a guarapito or two, never three, so six per corner is too much,” explained a boy on the outskirts of Carlos III, surprised by the presence of the agents. “You smell fear in the air.”

The last time such a deployment was seen was in the weeks after the July 11 and 12 demonstrations , to police hard currency stores. One of the elements that precisely formed part of the protests of those days was the complaint against the establishments selling in freely convertible currency (MLC), which the bulk of the population cannot access, which charges in pesos and does not have access. to money from abroad.

Precisely those who can only buy in national currency were busy early, this Wednesday, looking for some meat in the state stores of the capital. Unsuccessfully. They did not take out or mincemeat, or sausages or chicken.

“The stores are bare,” a resident of Centro Habana complained as she walked away to look for another establishment, the room she would visit in the morning. She “has” to buy “for the book” in the Amistad Market, located in San Lázaro and Infanta, but it has been closed for several days. “People are speculating that they’re going to turn it into a store in MLC.”

There was the same vigilance at La Época, on Galiano and Neptuno.

On the other hand, food rationing on this day was meager. “A single pound of sugar per person was given today,” said an old man as he left the ration store.

Plaza de Carlos III is one of the shopping centers that have almost entirely gone to selling in foreign currency, with the exception of the food market located on the ground floor and some processed food stores. The rest are stores that offer their products for home hygiene, brand clothing or decorative elements in MLC (hard currency) only.

One of the new restrictive measures of the provincial government, in force since May 20, is that the bodegas – the ration stores – will be linked to the Cimex and Caribe stores. The regulations, in any case, force people to go to fewer establishments, which has further complicated daily shopping in Havana, especially in the municipalities farthest from the center.

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