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My rabbit for your detergent? Cubans turn to barter as shortages worsen

  • Stabroek News
  • 3 Jun 2020

– Nelson Aguilar used to sell the rabbits that he raises on his Havana rooftop to restaurants. Now, with an ongoing pandemic, the 70-year-old uses them as currency, exchanging them for food or detergent to avoid multi-hour queues at poorly stocked shops.

He’s not alone. More Cubans are turning to bartering to meet their shopping needs, be it in person or on social media groups, as the novel coronavirus crisis worsens existing shortages of basic goods in the Communist-run island.

“Since they closed all the restaurants … I now raise them to eat and to exchange,” Aguilar said, in front of row after row of caged white rabbits.

“I exchanged rabbit for detergent or example, because I don’t like these queues,” he said, adding, “So far, I haven’t done even one (queue).”

Shoppers had already faced long lines for some staple goods over the last year-and-a-half as Cuba’s economic situation worsened with the implosion of ally Venezuela and amid tougher U.S. sanctions under President Donald Trump.

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