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Crisis-Stricken Cuba Requests WFP's Help To Address Food Shortages

March 5, 2024 (EIRNS)—For the first time, the Cuban government has asked the World Food Program (WFP) to provide it with powdered milk to supply to children under the age of seven. Thanks to the decades-long U.S. economic blockade and another 200-plus sanctions imposed by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just before he left office in 2021, Cuba is today in a dire economic crisis, plagued by constant electricity blackouts, high inflation and shortages of essential foods such as milk and bread. On Feb. 29, the government raised the price of gasoline, making it five times higher than its previous price, the Miami Herald reported March 1.

The Pompeo State Department’s also designating Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, on Jan. 11, 2021, has further exacerbated its economic problems, limiting trade, financial assistance, and access to foreign markets. The collapse of agriculture and food production over the past few years has exacerbated the situation. According to the Herald, in 2023 Cuba produced a billion fewer eggs and 122 million fewer liters of milk than in 2022.

Cuba doesn’t produce enough milk for its entire population but it does provide milk to children under age seven, requiring 2,000 tons monthly, for which it has now requested WFP’s help. WFP stressed the importance of the request, which reached its Rome office at the end of December. The shortage of milk is “significantly impacting the food and nutritional security of the population,” WFP warned. The WFP has already sent 144 metric tons of powdered milk but said it will mobilize more resources as the economic situation “shows no signs of improvement.”

Other countries are also sending milk. According to AP on March 4, Brazil had already shipped 375 tons of powdered milk and is expected to shortly send another 500 tons. Canada has sent 245 tons, and another 600 tons is expected from other suppliers. The U.S. made an exception to its sanctions regime and is sending 500 tons but demands that Cuba pay cash in advance.