Economic situation in Cuba worsened by debts

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Cuba, which imports most of the food it consumes, has suffered in recent weeks narrow supply of some products such as chicken, eggs or flour, which was evident in long lines in supermarkets to buy some products rationed.

The lack of paper also forced the official newspaper Granma to shorten its pages, a similar measure to the first adopted by the government in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the beginning of an economic crisis known as the "Special Period."

"There is a level of imports in the plan that we are considering that they will not be able to arrive in the country, precisely because of the conditions that the economy is facing at the moment, aggravated by the impact of the increased blockade" of the United States, he added. Minister.

Gil explained that this year the imports of food and fuel are valued at 5,000 million dollars.

"We have a high level of imports in the plan of the economy this year that is based on supplier credits, and these credits are affected if you do not have up to date payment of debts," he said.

In addition to this situation, Gil said "exports do not grow with the required dynamics, the levels of foreign investment that the economy demands for its operation are not reached".

According to the former economy minister José Luis Rodríguez, those unpaid debts with short-term suppliers that must be renegotiated amounted to 1,500 million dollars at the end of 2018.

The Cuban government is slow to modernize its economic model. 13% of the labor force is private, but the "socialist state enterprise" is considered key in the economic system, although they recognize that many are oversized and excessively bureaucratic.

Do not return to the "Special Period"

For his part, Diaz-Canel, who this month celebrates his first year as head of government, told Parliament that "the current US administration has publicly announced its intention to destroy any purpose of developing alternatives to capitalism. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are on your agenda. "

The United States questions the political system and the Cuban one-party system, and accuses the country of supporting Venezuela, even militarily. Washington has tightened the siege against Caracas to overthrow Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela is an important supplier of fuel and consumer of Cuban medical services. The Trump administration has recently sanctioned vessels that carry oil from Venezuela to Cuba and foreign entities that the island uses to do business.

In addition to the embargo that has been applied against the island since 1962, the United States has threatened to activate chapter III of the Helms-Burton law since May, which allows federal companies to sue companies that benefit from assets nationalized in Cuba after the revolution of 1959.

"Now they postpone it for a month or for a few days, with arrogant threats, like someone who holds a sword over our heads capable of cutting them if we do not give up. What is the whole Helms-Burton, if not the 60-year blockade turned into law? "Said the Cuban president.

In these circumstances, he said, Cuba prioritizes the development of six strategic sectors of its economy: "the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry; the electroenergetic, the production of food; the export of professional services and construction ".

"To say it in good Cuban: the crudity of the moment requires us to establish clear and well defined priorities, not to return to the difficult moments of the special period," he said.

In the special period the island was paralyzed, it lost abruptly 85 percent of its foreign trade, diseases caused by malnutrition appeared and 45,000 Cubans staged the "Crisis of the Balseros", a massive exodus in 1994.

Last Wednesday, Castro, in another parliamentary session, asked citizens to prepare for difficult times.

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