Thursday, Jul 25, 2024

Cuba's Sugar Industry on the Brink of Collapse

Cuba's sugar industry, once the core of its economy, is nearing collapse due to inflation, shortages, and mismanagement. Production has dropped drastically, and workers like Miguel Guzmán struggle with poor wages as Cuba now imports sugar. The shift to tourism and recent fuel price hikes highlight broader economic challenges, while issues of corruption further strain the nation's economic stability.
For hundreds of years, sugar was the mainstay of Cuba's economy, forming the backbone of its export and rum industries.

Families like the Guzmáns, working in the Yumurí Sugar Co-operative near Cienfuegos, have dedicated their lives to sugarcane farming.

Miguel Guzmán, a seasoned cutter, now sees the industry broken by spiraling inflation, shortages, and US economic embargoes.

Production plummeted to 350,000 tonnes last season, a stark contrast to 1.3 million tonnes in 2019.

Despite hard work, workers like Guzmán receive inadequate wages, and Cuba now imports sugar to meet domestic demand.

Chronic underinvestment and the shift towards tourism have compounded these issues.

Only two dozen sugar mills, including Ciudad Caracas, are operational, with others at a standstill.

Entrepreneur Martin Nizarane, who imports sugar for his yogurt and ice cream business, highlights a shift towards private enterprise.

This collapse not only affects sugar and rum exports but reflects broader economic woes, exacerbated by recent fuel price hikes and allegations of governmental corruption.

Economist Juan Triana notes that the once-central sugar industry is losing its role, challenging Cuba's identity and economic stability.

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