Havana court sanctions 13 people with up to two years in prison for reselling fuel

a court of Havana sanctioned 13 people with sentences of up to two years in prison for reselling fuel in the midst of a severe shortage crisis that has been affecting Cuba for the past 2 months, official media reported this Friday.

According to a statement from the People’s Provincial Court of Havana, aforementioned by the official site cubadebate, two people will serve their sentence with correctional work, while 11 more will go to prison. The minor prison sentence is one year and four months.

In total, 15 people were tried —of which two were acquitted— for the crime of speculation. The sentence is not final, so it can still be appealed.

Those sanctioned —according to the court— sold fuel on the island’s widespread black market at prices ranging from 350 to 600 pesos per liter (14.5 to 25 dollars per liter, according to the official exchange rate). That is, more than 20 times the price at service stations.

The island has been going through a fuel shortage since the beginning of April that has resulted in long lines at gas stations that often do not have fuel.

This situation has led several Cubans to resell the liters they manage to get at exorbitant prices as a quick way to get cash. The country is also going through a deep economic crisis that has worsened since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

According to the court, the 11 sanctioned were increased “the sanctioning frameworks” taking into account that the crimes “were committed in a complex scenario, nuanced by the scarcity of fuels.”

The Cuban government reported at the end of April that the lack of fuel would continue at least until May due to “non-compliance by supplying countries.”

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