CUBA NEWS WEEK OF AUGUST 9, 2020
Last week the Cuban government opened several dozen grocery and consumer goods stores across the island in which all purchases must be made in U.S. dollars. It seems the Cuban government wants to receive hard currency in these stores to offset a monstrous budget deficit. But because of the current pandemic and the fact that there are no tourists on the island, just how Cubans on the island are supposed to get dollars remains a mystery. The move has been unpopular with the island’s population, because salaries are paid in Cuban money, and few people have the necessary currency to shop at these stores, which happen to be the best stocked.
Covid-19 remains under control on the island, and my gloomy predictions of a high infection and death rate did not come true. Good for me since I’m stuck here! How the rate is so low here and high in the U.S., Brazil, and Italy, I do not know.
The problem of food continues, with less of everything every day and longer lines. The price of rice, when you can find it, has quadrupled, and beer and soda have vanished. Power outages have become daily occurrences once again, bringing back memories of the “special period” for older Cubans.