Customer frustration at the prices of the new private premises in Carlos III

Customer frustration at the prices of the new private premises in Carlos III

A new store in Cuban pesos opened its doors this Friday in Plaza de Carlos III, in Centro Habana. The private business, named Fress – which until now provided its services through various shopping sites on-line to deliver at home and with payment from abroad – it not only offers varied food products, but also a cafeteria service, to eat on the spot. In addition, it has two peculiarities: very high prices and a foreign manager.

Sources from the shopping center confirmed to this newspaper that the state premises were rented to a Spaniard, something unusual in Cuba for an establishment of this type. He himself cordially welcomed his first clients this Friday.

Already in the early hours of the morning, a score of people gathered at the doors of Fress. The colorful decoration, the neatness of the tables and the large shelves called the attention of those who passed by.

“The pizza is cold and the drinks are hot, you tell me,” a girl complained, getting up from the table. “And the potatoes and stiff croquettes”

However, two women waiting to enter commented loudly that the prices were not that attractive. “For example, a can of condensed milk, which is in state stores for 35 pesos, is sold for 250,” said one of them.

As the hours passed, the line began to grow, and the employees of the place had to establish an order of entry.

“Is this for the passbook?” An older man asked him, approaching the line, to which they replied: “No, sir, if it were the normal price, there would be a concentration of people here.”

Inside, the disappointment was directly proportional to the expectation raised by the opening of Fress, especially considering that almost all the premises in Plaza de Carlos III are, since it reopened after months closed due to the covid pandemic, for sale in freely convertible currency, with the exception of the food market with very long queues.

“The pizza is cold and the drinks are hot, you tell me,” a girl complained, getting up from the table. “And the potatoes and stiff croquettes,” pointed out another young man sitting at a table in the cafeteria area.

Faced with the complaints of a couple of elderly women, who regretted that there was no differential treatment with the vulnerable, the head of the salon told them that consuming there was “a luxury and not a necessity.”

Many of the curious did not go beyond looking at the windows, from where they could see a box of Pringles chips at 350 pesos, Toblerone at 380, a box of 24 cans of soft drinks at 2,640 or a cheese gouda, of a little more than three kilograms, to 4,000 pesos.

Many of the curious did not go beyond leaning into the windows, from where the high prices of Fress could be seen.  (14ymedio)

“It’s the same price as street resale,” a Havana woman protested before walking past.

The resellers are, precisely and together with the coleros, the objective of the authorities since the Government authorized the sale in foreign currency first of food and cleaning products and later, of other basic necessities, such as clothing or footwear.

Without going any further, in a speech made public a few days ago but pronounced on April 9, President Miguel Díaz-Canel denounced “some phenomena that cause there to be a certain way of distribution through channels that deviate from the concepts of social justice that our socialist construction defends.”

On a first visit, it does not seem that social justice is among the objectives of Fress, which does not look very socialist construction either. After spending more than half an hour in line, a young man who managed to get in came out empty-handed: “Forget it, this is a reseller store authorized by the dictatorship.”

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