CubaBrief: Fuel shortage exposes two tiered system in Cuba. No turning back because Cubans have seen the true face of the regime says Cuban Priest

May Day Parade in Revolution Plaza in Havana cancelled this year.

There is a critical fuel shortage in Cuba that appears to be evidence of socialist economic inefficiencies, and a failure to invest in infrastructure according to reporting by the Associated Press.

Cuba’s fuel shortage worsened, with officials canceling events such as the May Day Parade in Revolution Plaza in Havana, restricting gasoline sales, and transferring some university sessions online. Cubans have faced shortages of several products during the recent economic crisis, but the cancellation of activities due to fuel shortages had not been recorded before . The cancellations come after several days of heavy queues at gas stations. According to experts, the shortage of gasoline and diesel is not due to a lack of crude oil – Cuba produces approximately half of what it requires and imports the remainder from other countries – but to difficulties in refining it.

“There is no lack of crude oil in Cuba,” said Jorge Piñón, senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.

He claims Venezuela is selling Cuba the same amount of crude as last year, if not slightly more.

Cuba has also acquired oil from Russia. Nora Gámez Torres in her October 17, 2022 article “Cuba ramps up imports of Russian oil, helping Putin to evade sanctions” reported that “amid economic and political turmoil, Cuba has received at least $322 million worth of oil from Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine.” The 4 million barrels of Urals crude oil received by Cuba “is the largest quantity since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” said Jorge Piñón, a senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Center who closely tracks oil shipments to the island.  (United Nations data on world trade documents that Cuba received $35 million in Russian petroleum in 2017 and $55.5 million in 2018.)

According to  Piñón, Cuba also got two tankers from the Mexican national oil company Pemex in April, each containing 300,000 barrels of crude oil. He blamed the shortages on technical production issues in the 1957-built refineries. Cuban officials have not revealed a particular cause for the shortages, but have previously highlighted difficulty with “inputs,” which  Piñón believes could refer to an additive Cuba obtains from Iran and uses to refine Venezuela’s heavy oil. This past weekend, fuel shortages became acute.

Officials are calling on Cubans to walk to May Day events to conserve fuel, but have brought in political pilgrims from around the world to ferry across the island in vehicles. “More than 300 foreign visitors from 29 countries make up the so-called XVI May Day International Volunteer Work Brigade that the Cuban regime receives and attends in Havana a week after the official parade on that date.

Despite this, after parading on May Day in Havana, between May 3rd thru the 6th, the “brigadistas” will travel to Sancti Spíritus, and there “they will be taken on tours to places of economic, social and cultural interest, such as neighborhoods in transformation and agricultural cooperatives, among others,” the note specified. Most of the guests of the XVI May Day International Volunteer Work Brigade are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ghana and Chile.

These privileged foreigners will get VIP treatment denied to every day Cubans.

Cubans are tired of being treated as second class citizens in their own country, and in July 2021 heard over official media heard the regime elite call for war on dissenters, then followed through with deadly violence to silence Cubans petitioning their government for more freedom..

Father Alberto Reyes

Father Alberto Reyes of the Archdiocese of Camagüey in a report by ACI Prensa said that “there is no turning back now,” because Cubans have seen the true face of the members of the regime, “who for years spoke to us day by day like a drumbeat about how much they loved us and wanted our good.”

“Now we know that it was all a lie, and that neither hand nor voice wavers when it comes to proclaiming destruction and death, and inciting the war of brother against brother in a fight whose wounds perhaps may never heal,” concluded Father Reyes.

ABC News, April 24, 2023

Cuba fuel shortages prompt rationing, event cancellations

After days of people forming long lines to get gasoline, Cuba’s fuel supply crisis has increased dramatically with authorities now suspending some activities and rationing sales

ByThe Associated Press

April 24, 2023, 8:24 PM

HAVANA — Cuba’s fuel shortages have increased dramatically with authorities suspending activities, including a concert by the country’s national symphony, as well as rationing gasoline sales and moving some universities’ classes online.

Cubans have experienced shortages of all kinds of goods amid the recent economic crisis but the cancellation of activities because of fuel shortages had not been reported previously. The cancellations come following days of long lines to get gasoline at filling stations.

Experts say the lack of gasoline and diesel is not due to a lack of crude oil — Cuba produces about half of what it needs and buys the rest from other countries – but to the difficulties refining it.

“There is no lack of crude oil in Cuba,” said Jorge Piñón, senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.

He said Venezuela is selling Cuba a similar amount of crude or even slightly more than it did last year. Cuba has also received oil from Russia, though details of these agreements are unknown.

Piñón said Cuba in April also received two tankers from Mexican state oil company Pemex carrying 300,000 barrels of crude oil each.

He blamed the shortages on technical production problems in the refineries, which were built in 1957.

Cuban authorities have not given a specific reason for the shortages, but in previous days have mentioned difficulties with “inputs,” which Piñón said could refer to an additive Cuba gets from Iran needed to refine Venezuela’s heavy crude.

The fuel shortages started being critical this weekend.

On Monday afternoon, the commercial director of the state-owned Cubapetroleo, Lidia Rodríguez, warned there are low levels of “refineable crude.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Villa Clara said in a statement published on the government’s Facebook page that fuel will only be sold to drivers of cars licensed to operate as public carriers and provide basic services, i.e. ambulances, and vehicles used in emergencies or burials.

Universities in the provinces of Villa Clara, Holguín, Sancti Spíritus and Universidad Agraria de La Habana said that starting Monday classes will be temporarily online.

On Sunday, a concert by the Cuban National Symphony in the capital’s main theater was canceled due to lack of fuel.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/cuba-fuel-shortages-prompt-rationing-event-cancellations-98815892

The Catholic World Report, April 23, 2023

Priest says Church in Cuba in position to propose transition from communism to free society

By Eduardo Berdejo for CNA

A man waves a Cuban flag during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, July 11, 2021. (Credit: Adalberto Roque/AFP via Getty Images)

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 23, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Only the Catholic Church in Cuba is in the position to lead a dialogue and propose a transition from communism to a free society, Father Alberto Reyes of the Archdiocese of Camagüey recently told the Spanish newspaper El Debate.

In recent months, the economic and social situation has worsened in Cuba, where according to an October 2022 report from the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), 72% of the inhabitants “live below the poverty line and only 14% expect their personal situation to improve in the near future.”

The deterioration of the Cuban economy is not recent, and the population’s discontent was reflected in the July 2021 protests in various cities that were strongly repressed by the regime and with various demonstrations throughout the past year.

In addition, thousands of Cubans continue to see emigration as a way out of poverty. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection, 6,817 people from the island arrived in the country in March, raising the total number to 135,090 for fiscal year 2023, which began in October 2022.

“Since the very same year 1959 [when Fidel Castro and his men took power] we are an island in flight, where more and more people see emigration as the only possible solution, and we helplessly witness the progressive absence of those with whom we have grown up; we feel that there is no room for hope here. When over and over again we hear that there is no one to change this, hope is shattered in our souls,” the priest told El Debate in an article published April 15.

Reyes, who often reflects on Facebook about the current situation in Cuba, said the population is crying out for “the end of communism and the arrival of freedom.” However, the government seeks to prevent “more images from getting to the outside” that show the international community the discontent among its citizens.

The Cuban government “has more than demonstrated its inability to build a society that is not only prosperous, but one capable of responding to the most basic aspirations of the human being,” the priest commented.

Although in recent decades there has been an improvement in the official relationship between the communist regime and the Church (during the first years of the revolution the government confiscated property and expelled priests and nuns), religious freedom on the island is not complete, Reyes pointed out in a Facebook post.

For example, the priest has had to pay a price for his criticism of the communist regime and his denunciations by becoming one of the members of the Church most harassed by State Security, with warning calls, threats of being put on trial, and “acts of repudiation,” the regime’s term for acts of violence and or humiliation toward critics of the government.

Nevertheless, Reyes said that he is grateful to the Catholic Church, “which spoke to me about eternal life, but which continually reminded me that this earthly life was not simply a ‘requirement’ of that eternity, that God loved both human and heavenly life.”

Regarding the future of Cuba, the priest pointed out that “there is no turning back now,” because Cubans have seen the true face of the members of the regime, “who for years spoke to us day by day like a drumbeat about how much they loved us and wanted our good.”

“Now we know that it was all a lie, and that neither hand nor voice wavers when it comes to proclaiming destruction and death, and inciting the war of brother against brother in a fight whose wounds perhaps may never heal.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2023/04/23/priest-says-church-in-cuba-in-position-to-propose-transition-from-communism-to-free-society/

From the archives

Miami Herald, October 17, 2022

Cuba ramps up imports of Russian oil, helping Putin to evade sanctions

By Nora Gámez Torres October 17, 2022 5:00 AM

Amid economic and political turmoil, Cuba has received at least $322 million worth of oil from Russia since the start of the war in Ukraine as authorities struggle to offset diminished shipments from close ally Venezuela, according to estimates by oil industry experts.

The 4 million barrels of Urals crude oil received by Cuba “is the largest quantity since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” said Jorge Piñón, a senior research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Center who closely tracks oil shipments to the island.

The figure marks a significant increase compared to recent years when Cuba received $35 million worth of Russian petroleum in 2017 and $55.5 million in 2018, but nothing in the following years, according to United Nations data on world trade. And it turns the Caribbean island into another market for oil from Russia, helping the country evade international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine while keeping its industry afloat.

[ Full article ]

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article267329272.html