HAVANA, Cuba: Due to food shortages and economic turmoil affecting Cuba, Belkis Fajardo, 69, wonders how she will feed her family over the holidays, while walking around downtown Havana with a small bag of lettuce and onions in hand.
Due to soaring inflation and deepening shortages, this year's crisis is different from usual, Fajardo said, adding, "We will see what we can scrape together to cook for the end of the year. Everything is really expensive, so you buy things little-by-little as you can. And if you cannot, you do not eat," as quoted by the Associated Press.
Basic goods, such as chicken, beef, eggs, milk, flour and toilet paper, are often impossible to find in state stores, or are expensive if available.
The average Cuban state salary is some 5,000 pesos a month, or around $29, while a pound of pork leg costs 450 pesos (around $2.60.)
"Not everyone can buy things, not everyone has a family who sends remittances money from abroad. With the money my daughter earns and my pension, we are trying to buy what we can, but it's extremely hard," Fajardo said.
According to the government, in October inflation surged by 40 percent over the past year and significantly affected the purchasing power of many Cubans.
In an address to Cuban lawmakers last week, President Miguel Daz-Canel admitted the government's failure to deal with the crisis affecting the country, most notably in its food shortages.
"I feel an enormous dissatisfaction that I have not been able to accomplish, through leadership of the country, the results that the Cuban people need to attain long-desired and expected prosperity," he said.
However, Ricardo Torres, Cuban and economics fellow at American University in Washington, said the words were "meaningless" without a realistic plan.
"People want answers from their government. Not words, but answers," he stressed, according to the Associated Press.