Unending lines in prior of stores space a common phenomenon in Cuban commerce. But, throughout an economic situation that has actually led come shortages of basic supplies, some Cubans have made lining up a rewarding profession.

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Long lines external Cuban stores space the result of limited merchandise that seldom responds come the demands of the population


Shopping for groceries has long to be a nightmare for most Cubans. Return buying an easy food has slightly improved recently, Ricardo Barragan told elafilador.net the "everything is difficult" once it comes to providing his family with thefundamentals of day-to-day life.

"If you want to buychicken, it deserve to well occur that you have to line increase for seven or eight hours," that said, addingthat 200 or 300 human being lining up outsidegrocery stores is nothing unusual.


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Cubans often spend hours or entire days to get a sack of rice or a chunk of meat


Like all protagonists in this article, Ricardo Barragan is no the genuine name the the 59-year-old Cuban, because none that them wanted to view their name published.

An artisan by profession, Barragan used to do arts and craftworks to knife a living. But due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic hitCuba, his market, greatly tourists, has actually crumbled, forcing the to carry out casual jobs to sustain his family.


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The Cuban economic climate is in dire straits fight by the COVID-19 pandemic and US sanctions


Hard currency: A must-have in Cuba

In Cuba, the virus pandemic has aggravated an currently precarious economic situation significant by low growth and a widening financial crisis. Tourism as a key money spinner for the island"s communist government has practically collapsed and remittances from exiled Cubans have almost ceased to circulation in the wake up of tighter us regulations because that money transfers to Cuba.

Earlierthis year, the government in Havana tried to stem the economic decrease with wage and price reforms, including a money reform that scrapped the so-called convertible peso (CUC), leaving the nonconvertible Cuban peso (CUP) as the only legal tender.


Watch video 01:48

Cubans wrestle with complicated currency reform


As the openly convertible CUC has actually ceased to exist, the united state dollar has become the money of an option for both Cubans and their government. In October 2019, the communist rulers opened up hard money stores where you deserve to buy family appliances and also car components with dollars. Due to the fact that June critical year, Cubans can also buy their groceries and sanitary products there listed they have a foreign currency account through a bank and also a debit card.

At the very same time, shops charging only in nonconvertible CUP room struggling between falling it is provided — and as lines have actually been gaining longer and longer, they"ve end up being graphic reminders of Cuba"s worsening financial situation. "Today it"s chicken meat, the following it"s food preparation oil — was standing in line never ends," says Barragan.


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Cuba has made decision to ditch the solid CUC (right) in donate of the weaker CUP. Now the us dollar is king on the island


The colerosalternative

Waiting for hrs to be able to do your daily shopping is a hassle specifically for the elderly. In time of a pandemic the is downright dangerous, increasing the danger of spreading the virus.

Since Cubans are offered to taking care of economic hardship, few of them have actually turned a trouble caused through the federal government into a private company model, coming to be colerosby profession — world who carry out others through a organization in exchange for a remuneration.

The colero, i m sorry is the derogatory term used by the government, sell a place at the prior of the line, i m sorry assures the the person who lives that the can obtain what that wants. But in stimulate to formalize this transaction, the colero has to insurance claim the space by spending the night out in the line and also sacrifice hours of his recreation time.

Marco Jimenz is a colero. That told elafilador.net the he as soon as was employed at a state-run optometriclaboratory whereby he earn 280 CUP ($11.67, €9.79) a month. He occasionally sold spectacle glass top top the black market to improve his salary, that says, till he to be laid off because "there wasn"t any type of glass anymore and we to be all sent home."

"We received salaries for one more two months, and also that was it." at some point a friend had actually come up through the idea of stand in line because that other civilization to earn some money, that told elafilador.net.


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What might look choose a short line can suddenly puffy bigger ~ above opening hours of stores


Cuban lines flourish upfront

During the pandemic, society distancing rules need shopkeepers to permit only two world into your stores at the same time, more swelling the ranks of those waiting outside. A night curfew limiting opening hours hadmade matters worse, saidJimenez.

From 5 a.m.in the mornings, world are allowed to leaving their homes, and the very first thing they perform is note down their ar in the line and also leave again, the said.

"When the stores open up at 9 a.m., they return to the marked spot, so the lines thrive upfront. It have the right to well occur that all of sudden you find 70 human being in former of you instead of the 10 who actually inside wall up as soon as you came."

Reserving a ar for someone rather earns a colero 50 CUP every client, saidJimenez, i m sorry is quite a smallincome for the time they spend. This is why he"s made decision to purchase the groceries himself and resell it for dual the initial price. "I to buy chicken, minced meat, mayonnaise, spaghetti — everything is available," the says, note that about 80% of the coleros, meanwhile, space resellers.


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Cuban authorities imposed sweeping actions to manage a surge of the coronavirus


Dismal job

The communist rulers have applied stiff fines come curb the exercise of reselling simple food and also sanitary products. Under a new law, shopkeepers are obliged to scan buyers"personal ID records to prevent people from lining up twice or much more times over.

Jimenez claimedthat he only wenton his shopping sprees "twice or 3 times a week maximum" to prevent raising the attention of the authorities. He"s acquired a list of addressed clients that reduces the hazard of getting caught, that said.

The job earns him in between 750 CUP and also 1,000 CUP a main — the equivalent of a small over $40 (€33). That hadenough money to make ends meet, that said, provided that a federal government job that started around two months back addeda little an ext to his as whole income. He"s been hired together a pesquisa— someone who knocks onpeople"s doors to find out if quarantine rules and stay-at-home rules are adhered to.

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However, all he"s hoping because that is to go back to his former job as quickly as possible. "Standing in the line at shops has actually helped that survive," the argued, but he"s grown tired of doing it, and also "won"t miss standing in line" once these make the efforts times room over.