By Promod Puri

Leftist bhagats of late Fidel Castro may still be reciting the virtues of Cuba’s brand of socialism. But the ground realities expose the failure of the system inadequately meeting the needs of Cubans involving food and basic consumer essentials.

It is a dire situation on the island country, which is just a viewing distance from its ideological number one enemy, the USA.

Cuban leadership can hate the Americans as much as they want under their egoistic pride of anti-capitalist nationalism. But the socialist regime lately loves to have the US dollar to meet its crucial import needs.

“Cuba is overly dependent on imports, which account for some 80% of what the nation consumes. Despite largely controlling the coronavirus outbreak, the lockdown has brought tourism to a halt in Cuba, and the resulting drop in foreign exchange earnings means fewer dollars to pay for imports”, according to a recent BBC report.

Further, the US administration under Trump’s instructions has put more embargos and harsher sanctions on shipping, travel and remittances on Cuba.

The government-run superstores that carry grocery items, which in normal conditions already have a sparse look on their shelves, are almost bare these days. There are always line up in front of the stores. But now these waiting lines are much longer.

Patience and no grumbling are what Cubans have learnt since the Fidel Castro’s 1953-1958 revolution.

Cuba badly needs dollars to buy its grocery in the international market. For that reason, some of the government-run superstores have been turned into “Dollar Stores.” These outlets’ only currency of acceptance is the American dollars.

It is the US dollar that Cubans somehow collect and hoard for a situation like this. Knowing that people have dollars, and lots of them, that the government itself is seeking the hidden treasure to meet its import needs.

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