Facing Severe Shortages, Cubans Team up on WhatsApp and Telegram to Swap and Shop

Standing in queues and waiting is part of everyday life in Cuba, now more than ever. But as more and more people gain access to the Internet, they are increasingly trying to get hold of goods and find bargains online, supplementing the island nation’s planned economy.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - In Cuba, the search for basic goods such as nails or toilet paper can mean queueing for several hours at a store. To avoid the wait, many Cubans are joining WhatsApp and Telegram chat groups that alert them where they can find products or find someone looking to barter goods.

“Does anyone know where yoghurt’s available?” a woman asks a chat group. At the moment, no one can help – but someone has discovered cement and tiles at a store in the Cuban capital, Havanna. “Hurry though, the queue outside is already really long.”

“Who wants . . .

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