Wonderful New Stores

Fountain in Old Havana. Photo: Caridad

About two months ago, walking the streets of Old Havana and Cerro, two municipalities of Havana, something interesting occurred.

There were openings of new and renovated stores that offered a considerable number of products for purchase in the regular national currency-not in our other stronger currency, the CUC (25 Cuban pesos = 1 CUC).

Over all these new stores was a sign with the initials M.A.I. Though I asked the workers there what this stood for, none of them had the faintest idea.

So these stores stay remain for me as wonderful yet strange, selling articles in national currency.

After entering several of them, I noticed that the products being sold there were previously only available in CUCs.

Here, products like soap, toothbrushes, glasses, buckets, belts, cloth, clothes and shoes are a little cheaper than in the hard currency stores.

It was remarkable to see these stores full of people with cheerful faces able to buy products at prices that did not completely break their budget.

These stores, with their medium quality but indispensable products, are truly becoming an answer for Cuban families that don’t have access to CUCs or dollars.

But included with their benefits is the realization that social differences exist today in Cuba. One sector of the population has access to good products in dollar stores, while the other one is limited to buying medium quality articles in these new stores.

Cuba, as a socialist country, must fight to prevent its division into social classes, which the existence of these two types of stores contributes to.

A solution could be to provide medium quality products at a price that allows everyone to buy the same products.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.



4 thoughts on “Wonderful New Stores

  • M.A,I is either made in india or made in indonesia. i say this because i am a label checker. Indian garmets at least the outter wear is what i wear often and i like them because most all are cotton. Now, i would suggest that the person u asked was not told this or they told did not know?

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  • With a sudden 500 char. limit placed on comments here it seems to me H.Times is demonstrating no real interest in dialog from readers. Not like their bloggers cannot make their case in full. Since H.Times reviews comments too, it’s not like spam etc is an issue either. So I draw conclusions that H.Times is bearing a little too much resemblance to another dissident newspaper — which drifted in very much the wrong direction due to historical circumstances: the Moscow Times. A big mistake,…

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  • grok, For several years I taught a freshman English class where my students were required to write a 500 word abstracts of longer articles, and also outline the essential points of these articles. This gives us good practice in paring down our arguments, and also relieves the editors of having to plow through much verbosity (including my own!). Perhaps this is the influence of Hemingway, who had a finca in Habana. I would hope, however, that a character-counter be installed, so you know…

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  • LOL…when you are coming to the end of your 500 characters and can wind it up. Also, as was the case when this was tried on other sites, you can merely send several 500 character enteries, one after the other! On the other hand there is another site, allegedly from Cuba, which allows unlimited space, in numerous languages. They (or should I say she) seem to have unlimited resources. Perhaps she was inspired by Faulkner, or Henry James, or Cuba’s own Lezama Lima (who spent 14 pp. describing…

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