HAVANA, Jan. 8th. The Ministry of Internal Trade announced delays in the delivery of ration books for Cuban families, which it attributed to “financial limitations” for the importation of the necessary raw materials, according to what the Government of the province of Matanzas published on Facebook.
“From the State Directorate of Commerce in Matanzas, it is reported that financial limitations caused a delay in the importation of raw materials for the preparation of supply books, which resulted in a significant delay in their printing and distribution to effect the change. of notebooks corresponding to 2024”, says the text.
According to the authorities, in order not to affect the delivery of the few products in the first months of this year, the Ministry of Domestic Trade approved “to write down the products included in the regulated family basket for the month of January and February 2024 in the past notebook.” year, until the preparation of the new ones is completed”.
The information qualifies the measure as a “temporary provision” that will be “strictly complied with by retail establishments that sell rationed products such as wineries, bakeries, milk points, butcher shops and gas (LPG) sales points.”
Tamara Castillo, head of the State Directorate of Commerce in Matanzas, said that “once the notebooks for the year 2024 are delivered to consumers, the retail establishment must update the entries in them based on sales made previously, a process that must be concluded before March 30, 2024”.
According to the official, “the sale of the regulated family basket is guaranteed even though the notebooks are not prepared and delivered.” The preparation of ration cards in Cuba corresponds to the Consumer Registry Offices (OFICODAS).
Cubans who commented on the government publication showed their exhaustion with the current situation of the rationed quota, with scarce products that take longer and longer to arrive, are delivered in increments and worsen the situation of food shortages and insecurity that families suffer.
“In the municipality of Pedro Bentancourt on this date nothing has entered, so the notebook is not needed, why,” wrote Noedis Urra.
Yamila Antón added: “Total, for what came this month, a pound of sugar, I don’t think the absence of the notebook will be noticed,” and Juana Mari Rodríguez Sánchez lamented that “neither card nor products either.”
Rosana Izquierdo laughingly said that “it’s always the same story” and that “they should better remove it,” while Loreley Simón said that “for what they give on one page you have enough for the whole year.”
Tayrumi de la Caridad Pérez questioned: “What raw materials do they need to import to make the card?” Along the same lines, Ramón Romero Milia wrote: “In other words, to make the supply card you have to import raw materials, a cardboard, six sheets and two clips; now I know that we are liquidated, we cannot move forward.”
The Minister of Internal Trade, Betsy Díaz Velázquez, said at the end of 2023 that the distribution of regulated products through the ration book will continue in the country during 2024.
The head denied “bad stories and ill-intentioned information circulating on social networks “, even though two days before the Government hinted at the disappearance of the card for everyone, as it was designed.
In the economic shock plan for 2024 announced by the authorities in the National Assembly in December, in addition to increases in the price of fuel, electricity, water and other services, the end of the universal food subsidy is also contemplated. and other products included in the ration book.
The Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, said that the objective is to move to “subsidizing people and not products” to achieve “a more fair and efficient scheme.”
“It is not fair that those who have a lot receive the same as those who have very little. Today we subsidize the same to an elderly pensioner as to the owner of large private businesses who has a lot of money,” argued Marrero Cruz.
On September 27, the Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, said that the Government did not have foreign currency to import the increasingly tiny amount of products that Cubans acquire at subsidized prices through the ration book.
Five days after those statements on the television program Mesa Redonda, a report from the state-run Canal Caribe described as “titanic” the task of distributing food from the “normed” basket in the country, mainly in the eastern region, due to the rains.
The products purchased through the libreta are not even enough to eat poorly for 15 days, but Cubans without family to help them from abroad depend on the libreta to avoid dying of hunger.
The Cuban ration card emerged on July 12, 1963, with the euphemistic name of “Supply Book.” The objective was to ration and control the consumption of Cubans while creating the illusion that socialism would protect the population and guarantee them everything they needed.
Cubans received beef, chicken, oil, butter, condensed milk, toilet paper, coffee, rice, grains and other basic necessities. Cubans also acquired candies, cookies, chocolate, cigarettes, soft drinks and cases of beer through the booklet, while the defunct Soviet Union and the socialist camp subsidized the Cuban regime.
However, decade after decade the notebook has been “slimming”. Eliminating it is an old aspiration of the Cuban regime, although it does not give up using it for its political propaganda. After the 11J protests, in an attempt to appease the unrest, the Government gave ”exceptional booklets” to more than 60,000 families who lacked them.