Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

May 28, 1999.

"GRANMA" TELLS OF METAL IN RICE By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - "Granma," the government's newspaper, discussed the delays in the distribution of rice to the people in a news article published May 26.

The state-controlled distribution in the central and eastern provinces of the country, in addition to being delayed, was conducted in a fragmentary manner, according to the Interior Ministry. The main cause of this, the government said, was the arrival of ships carrying more than 26,000 tons of rice which were contaminated with metal fragments.

The merchandise arrived from "Asia" through European distributors. The health authorities in charge of the inspection and quality control of the food products discovered the contamination of the rice and did not authorize its distribution. The "emergency measures" were not successful in search of rice in countries in the area. "mainly because the main producer, the United States, maintains its stranglehold blockade over the sale of food," the government said.

But then the government found a ship with 8,300 tons of rice not yet sold which was cruising the coast of Africa.

The merchandise was scheduled to reach Cuba in mid-May. The article said measures have been taken so that in mid-June, coinciding with the national harvest of rice, more ships will arrive with this staple food for the Cuban population. Starting in the second part of June, this would allow normalization of the distribution of this product to the central and eastern-most provinces.

The Cuban authorities are investigating the cause of the contaminated shipment and have filed a claim for it. As Cuba Free Press reported some days ago, the shortage of rice and other food products in Santiago have led to popular protests, without many consequences. The capital and the other provinces in the west have not been affected.

By Tania Quintero, Cuba Free Press.

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