Panic shopping and hoarding that has gripped Cuba since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic brought back ration books — also known as ‘liberta’.
The enormous lines forming outside supermarkets and smaller grocery stores surely don’t fall under the social distancing guidelines. But the strict U.S. sanctions and poor aid from its ally Venezuela significantly damaged the number of essential goods on the shelves.
Attempting to measure basic products and avoid shortages, the Cuban authorities put a number of items in the government-issued ration list, reports Reuters. This includes rice, beans, coffee, sugar, chicken, and cleaning products.
Before the pandemic struck, Raul Castro, the current leader of Cuba, was adamant about getting rid of ration books, considering them an outdated practice. Nevertheless, many citizens say that considering the situation, subsidizing particular kinds of goods has been life-saving.
At the same time, the government is working on establishing an online shopping system — which is tricky since the Internet is still relatively new for Cuba, especially among the elderly.