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Cuban authorities said this weekend that it won't be able to guarantee the provision of the subsidized bread it gives most of its citizens, a result of "severe shortages" of flour.

Concretely, the Food Industry ministry said the shortages will last until at least late March and that they are consequence of "specific situations" regarding "planned shipments."

"There will be severe affectations to the production of bread in all territories given the instability in the supply of commodities," said Zaily Pérez, commercial director of state-run company Empresa de Molinería, according to a report by EFE agency.

The agency detailed that Cuba needs a monthly supply of 20,000 tons of flour a day to produce the bread it subsidizes. But, out of the five large mills the country has, only one is active, and that one produces 250 tons of flour a day. Authorities are seeking for alternatives to increase production.

The potential lack of bread is taking place at the same time as blackouts due to lack of fuel in the country, immersed in a deep economic crisis. There is also sky-high inflation and shortages of medicine and other foods.

Around five percent of the population has left the country throughout the past two years as a result of this, the biggest wave of emigration since Fidel Castro's revolution.

The US Customs and Border Protection agency said it had registered more than 153,000 irregular entries from Cuba in 2023. Another 67,000 entered legally under a humanitarian parole program, introduced a year ago by President Joe Biden's administration in a bid to slow illegal migration.

Together with the 313,506 who left in 2022, this mass movement represents "the largest number of Cuban migrants recorded in two years since the beginning of the post-revolutionary Cuban exodus in 1959," Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, told AFP.

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The latest mass exit started in November 2021, when Cuban ally Nicaragua lifted its visa requirement for Cubans. Last year, there was a surge in chartered flights to the Central American country, a waypoint for those making their way to the United States, an increase so noticeable that Washington sanctioned the carriers involved.

Not all Cuban migrants have headed for the United States. Latin American countries and Europe are also popular destinations, though there is no official global figure.

Some 36,574 paperless Cuban migrants sought refuge in Mexico in 2022 and 2023, while at least 22,000 entered Uruguay and hundreds arrived in Chile in the same period, according to official figures from these three countries.

In Europe, Spain is a favorite Cuban destination, especially since the passage in 2022 of a so-called "Grandchildren's Law" that allows Spanish descendants to obtain nationality.

"Many young people with high educational and occupational levels" left in the last two years, creating "a substantial loss of human resources" for Cuba, said Duany.

Of the hundreds of thousands who have left, around 40,000 are doctors. In an attempt to halt this particular exodus, some 400,000 doctors, nurses and technicians have been given the incentive bonuses.

The export of skilled health care professionals in so-called "white coat diplomacy" has been a valuable source of foreign currency, and in some years - such as 2018 - was the country's main earner, bringing in some $6 billion, according to AFP. The practice has also garnered criticism, as Cuba has been accused of taking most of their salaries earned abroad.

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