The fuel crisis immediately raised fears of a return to the extreme austerity of the 1990s Special Period following the collapse of main benefactor, the Soviet Union. Havana awoke on Thursday to long lines at gas stations and public transportation stops after President Miguel Diaz-Canel warned fellow Cubans to expect fuel shortages and blackouts that he blamed on US sanctions.
The fuel crisis immediately raised fears of a return to the extreme austerity of the 1990s Special Period following the collapse of its main benefactor, the Soviet Union. In a televised address late Wednesday, Diaz-Canel said the low availability of diesel will affect transportation, power generation and distribution of merchandise. He said no fuel had arrived in the country since Tuesday and the situation will persist until Saturday when an oil tanker is expected to arrive in port. The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on various companies for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. Diaz-Canel accused the United States of acting with greater aggression towards Cuba. But in a bid to calm fears, he insisted the shortages did not mean the country had entered a Special Period. The 1990s austerity caused widespread shortages and led to malnutrition and associated diseases, as well as the exodus of 45,000 refugees, mostly to the United States. The president’s reassurances fell on deaf ears for within minutes of the end of his televised speech, thousands rushed to gas stations, alarmed at news that they would not be refueled before Saturday at the earliest. Diaz-Canel pledged a return to a situation of relative normality in October. He stressed that the country was stronger than at the time of the Special Period because it had succeeded in diversifying its economy and now had the European Union as its main trading partner. Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, is suffering hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods from food to medicine since a collapse in the price of oil. The country is also roiled by a political crisis that has seen an opposition leader try to oust President Nicolas Maduro, and the United States has targeted Venezuelan officials and its oil industry with sanctions in a bid to force out the strongman.
LINK ORIGINAL: Mercopress