As Washington punishes Cuba for supporting Venezuela, Cubans are replacing tractors with oxen and oil with firewood
On a muggy morning in eastern Havana, a bus crammed with more than 100 sweaty commuters pulls in to a bus stop. The doors open and more passengers press in before inch by inch the hydraulic doors groan shut, slowly shunting the new arrivals inside.
All the buses are coming like this, said Roberto Lpez, 66, on his way fingers crossed to buy biscuits in the city centre.
Bus services throughout Cuba have been slashed in recent weeks as the island grapples with acute petrol shortages caused by US sanctions which target companies and oil tankers transporting Venezuelan petroleum to the island.
Cubas President Miguel Daz-Canel has said the island is currently operating with 62% of the petrol it needs, and announced emergency measures to disrupt the plans of imperialism. Across the island, production has been cut and stopgaps found, so that fuel can be prioritized for hospitals, schools and food distribution.
Oxen have replaced tractors in sugarcane fields; some bakeries are using firewood to power their ovens. Transport inspectors have been deployed to ensure that anyone driving a vehicle which belongs to a ministry or state enterprise gives fellow citizens a lift.
At the Alamar textile factory and in offices and factories throughout the island all machines and lights are switched off between 11am and 1pm. Taking her extended lunch break, Aimee Machu, 52, said the US wants to stem the flow of oil to extinguish the flame of communism.
It they cut the power in my house itll be torture, she laughed, adding with mettle: But if we have to go through power cuts again, well do it.
Were Cuban, her colleague Rita Castro, 60, chuckled. Were used to this!
Despite its myriad problems, the Cuban economy has proved resilient when times get tough,according to Pavel Vidal, a former economist at the Cuban Central Bank who now teaches at the Javeriana Cali University in Colombia.
In normal conditions, Cubas centrally planned economy impedes economic growth, progress and innovation, he said. But in times of crisis, having a plan to assign resources where they are needed is an advantage.
The collapse of Venezuelas oil industry the result of years of mismanagement, incompetence and, more recently, US sanctions has seen its oil shipments to Cuba slump, from more than 90,000 barrels a day four years ago to about 40,000 today.