On Havana's broad Malecon, sweating drivers pushed automobiles toward service stations and into queues that were sometimes ten blocks long. Desperate motorists waited all night to get their ration of three gallons when gasoline pumps opened in the morning. More than half of Havana's automobiles were garaged for lack of gas. Milk deliveries were cut, taxis almost vanished, and black-market fuel sold as high as $1.20 a gallon.

Dependent on the U.S. for its motor fuel supply, Cuba was going to be on short rations at least until spring eased the U.S. shortage and released tankers for the Cuban run. As...

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