Fuel Crisis in Cuba: The Long Wait

Cuba’s fuel crisis boils over. After weeks of visible and growing problems with supply, the government itself confirmed that the situation would last at least until May and was mainly due to “non-compliance” by suppliers.

Faced with this situation, the authorities announced measures such as prioritizing “critical sectors”, distributing “reduced capacities” to avoid “reaching zero” and restricting and de-prioritizing the sale of petrol and diesel to private vehicles. Reorganization of service by state services, as well as organizations and territories.

“That’s not the situation we’re going to be in for the rest of April and May. “We are going to proceed with partial de-fuelling in a minimal way to guarantee vital services without supply reaching zero,” the president explained. Energy and MinesVincent de la O.

The minister assured that there is a trend towards “progress based on results from suppliers who have already fulfilled their obligations on matters concluded in negotiations”. But he cautioned that this “doesn’t mean we’re going to get fuel like we did in 2017, 2018 or even a few months ago.”

Meanwhile, endless queues around service centers have become a common part of the landscape across the island. Such scenes are repeated in Havana and other provinces, along with other images of empty, dilapidated gas stations with no cars or fuel to offer.

The huge array of cars is a response to Cuba’s fuel crisis. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez

Where there are — or, almost always, expected to be — these lines can last for days and drivers stay in their cars late into the night, organizing and fraternizing among themselves.

Queues at a bakery and gas station on Havana’s Vedado, Calle Zapata. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez

Those who wished to surrender were resigned to the long wait. They bring their own water and food to save their wallets more trouble, protect themselves from the scorching sun during the day, and some play advanced games of chess and dominoes that have gone viral on networks.

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A man carries a packet of detergent in his hands, and in the background people are waiting to buy fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
People adjust the changes in the petrol line. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
Multiple clients monitor queues. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
People adjust the changes in the petrol line. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
A man drinks water from a thermos while waiting for fuel to arrive. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
Customers waiting for petrol stations to fill up to buy fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
Some are commenting that they have been waiting for two days to add fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez

This is not an unprecedented situation in Cuba, which has already gone through similar “encounters”. But less hassle, less stress for those involved in larger lines. And for those who, without cars, are experiencing the effects of this crisis in their daily lives and in their pockets.

Members of the MININT maintain order among the citizens at the Infanta Service Center. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
The amount of fuel per person is limited. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez

Approaching many of these lines this week is our photojournalist Otmaro Rodríguez, who offers us his snapshots as testimony to a harsh reality that plagues the daily lives of Cubans today.

Fuel crisis in Cuba. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
People push a coconut taxi that has run out of fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
A man emptied his motorcycle’s gas tank before buying fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
A man watches a fish being cleaned while waiting to buy fuel. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez
People observe people pouring fuel at a gas station. Photo: Otmaro Rodriguez

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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