• Frank Gonzalez


In late 2020 the Cuban government opened over one-hundred MLC food and consumer goods stores throughout Cuba. MLC are the initials in Spanish for Freely Convertible Currency, which is a convoluted term for U.S. dollars. The stores opened with much fanfare and controversy. Fanfare because they were stocked with a wide variety of goods, unusual in Cuba. Controversy because many Cubans publicly complained that they did not have access to U.S. dollars and therefore to the new MLC stores. The Cuban government did not create a mechanism for Cubans to exchange Cuban money into dollars. The stores opened with stocked shelves and were the only way to purchase many imported food items. Now most of the shelves in those stores are empty, like most of Cuba’s grocery stores, all of which are owned and operated by the central government.

Last month the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Havana received a host-making machine as a gift from New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. The machine was manufactured in Zaragoza, Spain and shipped from Spain to Havana, where it arrived in February. The machine replaces the one that had been donated by the late Cardinal John O’Connor and had broken down. When Archbishop Dolan visited Cuba in February 2020, he learned of the broken host-making machine, and promised to replace it. The Carmelite Nuns make the hosts for all Catholic parishes in Cuba.

The Cuban Ministry of Health initiated a plan to vaccinate the population of Havana as part of the final trial of two of the island’s home-grown COVID-19 vaccines.

Cuba remains closed to foreigners for all practical purposes. Arrivals to the island must quarantine for over a week and most private businesses are closed across the island.

We expect Cuba will reopen to foreign visitors, without the need for quarantine, after the summer.

Cuba MLC store in Havana Cuba cuba travel
One of the new U.S. dollar stores in Havana, Cuba

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