Dockworkers at the port of Havana had struck and blockaded the port, refusing to load a shipment of rice bound for Haiti, pointing to a chronic national shortage.
Rice has been unavailable in the "island socialist paradise" for a month now. It can't even be found in the elitist convertible stores (which accept pesos convertibles from the small elite and tourists, while workers' wages and rations are paid in the moneda nacional). The shortage has been a cause of great public outcry, as this episode demonstrates.
Upon hearing of the proposed shipment to Haiti, dockworkers in the capital refused to load the boat and blockaded the port. The army was sent in to load it instead, but the workers refused them access, claiming that they would sooner die then let their children go hungry. Faced with a rapidly escalating situation, the military reported to the President Raúl Castro, who decided against invoking a shore of international condemnation for massacring hungry workers in the capital. Instead, the shipment was cancelled and the grain was distributed throughout the nation's shops.
The courage of the Havana dockworkers is to be applauded, suggesting, as it does, the green shoots of a reignition of popular militancy on the island against over half a century of the castrista dynasty and its accompanying state capitalist economy. We'll keep you updated as to developments on the island.
EDIT 24/06/10: edited to clarify some facts after talking to better sources - CdB