Showing that it’s not still trapped in 1959, the communist Castro dictatorship is preparing to use the latest technology to bring socialist surveillance, hunger, and misery to the people in the digital age. ¡Viva la revolución!
Cuban government to develop virtual ration book
The Cuban government is developing a virtual ration book to increase surveillance over the acquisition of basic food items and controlled regulated products, according to statements from authorities to state-run media.
On Thursday, Rodolfo Cabrera Morales, the Director of Informatics at the Ministry of Internal Trade (MINCIN), explained to state-run newspaper Granma that this virtual ration book is part of the digital market project, which aims to allow remote grocery shopping through mobile devices.
He also mentioned these applications will provide greater control over who makes purchases, who pays, and the quantity of products acquired. The system will include notifications for incoming products and their expiration dates, including medical diets, as well as statistical access to monitor establishments.
Furthermore, consumers will have additional options to choose from, such as pre-packaged products and courier services.
The official stated the project is linked to the computerization of the Consumer Registry, better known as Oficodas, and is part of the country’s digital transformation to promote e-commerce.
However, the Deputy Minister of MINCIN, Inalvis Smith Luben, clarified to the newspaper this project is conceived in stages.
“We are not thinking of deploying it in all stores at once. Practice will show us how it will be gradually implemented,” she pointed out, referring to the digitization of the sale of regulated products at a time when the supply is much lower, and many medical diets have been eliminated.
She also emphasized the digital store will be associated with the virtual ration book, and it is being considered that those who opt for this will not be eligible for a physical ration book.
Before implementing this project on a large scale, pilot tests will be conducted with groups of consumers to assess their willingness to participate in the experience. The platform will also be shown to other stakeholders, stated the Deputy Minister.
In a time when Cuba heavily relies on imports for almost all the food in the regulated and rationed basic basket, as recently acknowledged by President Díaz-Canel, the new experiment with the virtual store and ration book will begin in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud.
According to Yarisleydis Rodríguez Rives, the director of the local Commerce Company, the payment service that uses QR codes via platforms such as EnZona and Transfermóvil has already been fully implemented in all commercial establishments on Isla de la Juventud. Additionally, in the 63 bodegas (small grocery stores) in that special municipality, payments can be made using Point of Sale (POS) terminals.
This payment method has been in use in the capital, Havana, for almost three years. In December 2020, the Havana Provincial Commerce Company (EPC) introduced electronic payments in all 1,940 bodegas in the city through the digital platform EnZona. However, it appears Havana residents are not currently part of the pilot tests for the new virtual ration book experiment, which seems to indicate the ration book, now in physical form, will continue to exist on the island for the foreseeable future.