Cubans are queuing for hours for public transport at peak times in Havana, sweating in the heavy heat, while queues at gas stations snake several blocks long, as a fuel shortage that the government blames on US sanctions worsens.
Inspectors flagged down workers with state cars or trucks to get them to pick others up after President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s exhortation for Cubans to show solidarity in these times of crisis and everyone do their bit to improve fuel efficiency.
He warned Cubans on Wednesday on state television of difficult times ahead as US attempts to block fuel shipments to Cuba mean there is less diesel than usual available this month.
The government has agreed a series of measures to ensure basic services, he said. Some energy-intensive investments would be postponed, some train and bus services would be suspended and those who could work from home should.
The crisis should only be temporary though, he assured, with shipments for October guaranteed. “The transport situation is getting ugly, even if the state says it is only temporary,” said Alexei Perez Recio, 55, who was fixing up a bicycle he had not used since the economic depression in Cuba following the fall of former benefactor the Soviet Union when public transport collapsed. “I have to have my bike ready.”
The Communist government has assured Cubans this is not a return to those dark days as the economy is more diverse now, having opened to tourism and foreign investment, and developed its own oil industry.