In a series of televised prime-time appearances spanning several weeks, high-ranking Cuban authorities have progressively presented a bleak panorama, divulging the gravity of an intensifying economic crisis with unprecedented granularity.
Successive ministers have relayed grim tidings as the import-dependent nation navigates through its fourth year of crisis, managing with minimal foreign exchange amidst a precipitous decline in output.
The officials at the helm disclosed that food production, pharmaceutical supplies, and transportation have all witnessed a decline of no less than 50% since 2018, and this downward trajectory persisted into the current year, primarily attributed to chronic shortages in fuel and power disruptions.
While Cuba imports the majority of its food and fuel, revenues have plummeted in the aftermath of the pandemic, exacerbated by stringent U.S. sanctions and the waning tourism sector, formerly a cornerstone of the Caribbean island’s economy.
“Cuban economist Omar Everleny remarked, ‘The ministers provided novel information, shedding light on the severity of the crisis and casting doubt on growth prospects for this year.'”
Dwindling Agricultural Production
Agriculture Minister Ydael Jesus Perez highlighted that production of essential items such as pork, rice, and beans has plummeted by over 80% this year compared to pre-crisis levels, and egg production has seen a 50% reduction.
“The minister elucidated, ‘We have only managed to procure 40% of the required fuel, 4% of the fertilizer, and 20% of the animal feed.'”
Data presented on state-run TV during a presentation by First Deputy Health Minister Tania Margarita Cruz revealed that hospitals, grappling with shortages in sutures, cotton, and gauze, have conducted 30% fewer surgical procedures compared to 2019. Additionally, nearly 68% of essential pharmaceuticals are either unavailable or in short supply.
In a country where private vehicles are scarce, public transportation has also been severely impacted by fuel shortages and challenges in sourcing spare parts.
Transportation Minister Eduardo Rodríguez Davila lamented, “Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were 2,500 buses operating in Havana. Today, there are just 300, compared to 600 four years ago.”
The officials disclosed that domestic freight traffic continues to dwindle, operating at half the capacity observed in 2019, with the industry currently functioning at only 35% of its potential.
Acknowledging the need for reform in its state-run economy, the Cuban government has been under increasing pressure. Local authorities have initiated initiatives to address hunger, construct homes, and enhance transportation flow, but they remain constrained by financial limitations.
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