Several employees of a Cuban supermarket have been fired for selling 15,000 apples to a single customer in a country regularly plagued by food shortages.
State news outlet Granma reported on Friday that the employees involved were let go after news of the sale first broke on the blog of a Cuban journalist, who witnessed it at a supermarket in Havana.
A group of “young, husky people” who were “organized in a quasi-military” way appeared at the store and bought 150 cases of 100 apples, according to journalist Iorel Sanchez, who said all the fruit was for a single customer.
The buyer paid the equivalent of 45 cents per apple, according to receipts published in the blog post. It is not uncommon in Cuba — regularly hit with shortages on staples including fruit, butter, milk and beer — for a trader to buy a large stock of food to resell it at a higher price.
Granma said eight employees of the store — owned by Cimex Corporation, which is state-run but subject to the laws applicable to private enterprise — had been dismissed.
Cuba imports almost all the food consumed by its 11 million inhabitants, including apples, according to the official site Cubadebate. The island is seeking to reform its Soviet-style economic model: a new constitution to replace the 1976 version has been approved by parliament and submitted to public debate.
In a bid to improve its supply of food products, Cuba’s government recently extended the area and allowed period of cultivation granted to the island nation’s farmers.