MARIEL, Cuba~, The lack of fuel and cooking gas is seen as the final straw by many Cubans living in rural areas of the island. This is because food and medications were already in short supply as a result of an economy that was severely damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the end of the country’s two-currency system, and a tightening of U.S. sanctions. A woman named Rosa López, who was 59 years old at the time, lighted a charcoal burner so that she could cook sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs for her grandkids. In Mariel, a port town west of Havana, where she typically purchases the gas cylinders she uses to cook her meals, she has not been able to purchase them for nearly two months.
Within a short distance of there, on the highway leading to Pinar del Ro, and under the blazing heat of the sun, Ramón Victores waited in line at a gas station for a whole week in the hopes of refueling the 1952 red Chevrolet that he uses for work, which involves transporting produce from one town to another.
Residents of rural villages in Cuba are having to resort to using coal fires to cook their food, scrambling to find transportation to take them to work, and spending days and nights at the gas station waiting to fuel up because of the most recent fuel shortage in Cuba, which has crippled an economy that was already in a fragile state.
The Associated Press went to a dozen different communities in the provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque, which are located to the east and west of Havana, respectively, to speak with locals about how the fuel shortage is hurting their day-to-day lives and what steps they are taking to protect themselves from yet another disaster. Since the government stopped allowing the sale of gas cylinders more than a month ago, López, a housewife in Mariel, has been forced to resort to using coal and firewood in order to prepare her meals. López is currently number 900 in line, and it is unclear when she will be able to obtain a coupon given that the delivery of the valuable cooking gas has been reorganized to be organized through the use of coupons.
On the road leading to Pinar del Ro, around 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Mariel, a group of smaller vehicles joined a huge line of tractors and other farming equipment waiting at a gas station for their turn to fill up, with many waiting for up to one week.
The Lopez family reported that they were able to find some brief relief on a tiny plot of property, where they constructed a coal fire and grew a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, there are several staples in the food industry that are still difficult to find.
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