Cuba cancels May Day parade due to fuel shortage

image source, Getty Images

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On May 1, Revolution Square in Havana is filled with workers who are bussed in from all over the island

Cuba’s communist government canceled the traditional parade on May Day Monday due to severe fuel shortages.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are bussed in from all over the island to fill Havana Revolution Square on International Workers’ Day.

This is the first time since the 1959 revolution that celebrations have been canceled for economic reasons.

Long lines have formed in recent weeks at gas stations, with drivers often waiting for days.

Earlier this month, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Cuba receives only two-thirds of the fuel it needs, adding that suppliers are failing to meet their contractual obligations.

While Cuba has access to lower-quality crude oil, the US-sanctioned island lacks the facilities to process it.

Shipments of high-quality crude oil from Venezuela, Cuba’s largest fuel supplier, have fallen by 50% in recent years.

Analysts say Venezuela itself suffers from acute problems and is finding it increasingly difficult to support its socialist ally.

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Fuel shortages mean Havana drivers can end up waiting for days at petrol stations

The government insists its state-led socialist model is best for the country and blames the problems on long-running US sanctions.

The Cuban authorities have traditionally mobilized huge resources to ensure the success of the May Day parade, transporting workers en masse to Havana.

Local events are expected to continue instead, with people going on foot.

Such actions would highlight the “obstacles to development programs due to the strict economic blockade,” Ulises Gilarte de Nascimento, president of Cuba’s main trade union, said on Tuesday.

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