Bread is a staple of diets worldwide, a low price with a high nutritious value.
But it is one of the most affected by the shortage in Venezuela. That’s because the country is entirely dependent on the import of wheat. Bakers have reduced their output and people have to spend hours queuing in the hope of buying for their table.
The lack of raw materials and complex currency exchange system have left many companies struggling especially those that manufacture basic products.
On Saturday Kimberly-Clark closed down its operations due to the soaring consumer prices and shortages of basic goods.
“We are a company that makes nappies, paper towels, things that are basic necessities and there are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 families affected,” explained one of the company’s staff, Wilmer Gutierrez.
Medical care has been hit by the shortages of medicines, equipment and personnel. Eight out of 10 medicines are now scarce according to the main pharmacy group.
Often patients have to bring their own. Protesting doctors are demanding the government declares a national health crisis and allows foreign humanitarian aid.
“I started to see patients in the area of the operating room and in the emergency area they began to die from lack of medicines. Some 70 children died do far this year due to lack of antibiotics to treat diseases such a neonatal sepsis,” said doctor David Macineiras.
According to figures from the Health ministry infant mortality was two percent of births last year, 100 times worse than 2014.
The deterioration of the public health sector is a major challenge for the ruling Socialist Party which ran free health projects with the help of Cuban expertise including Cuban-staffed clinics in the slums.
The island also suffered the consequences related to the fall in oil prices which has hit Venezuela so hard.
Cuba is cutting its electricity, imports and investments as well as reducing its fuel consumption. Electricity consumption is being reduced six percent.
It’s estimated Venezuela’s shipments of crude oil and refined products to Cuba were down 20 percent this year.
“In our work, they are cutting oil 50 percent, as they are throughout the country. Moving forward, always moving forward. Cubans are always moving forward,” said Cuban refrigeration technician Jonathan Hernandez.
Cuba receives four percent of Venezuelan exports and depend on them to produce electricity. They are bought at a preferential rate. Now the island plans to reduce its fuel consumption by 28 percent through the end of the year.