Maria Matienzo Puerto

Producto Zulu

HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know if from a stroke of good luck, but Cuban families are being forced to somehow recover from the economic disaster. Hilda Zulueta’s family is one of these.

She told me that when things were tight back in the not so distant Special Period economic crisis she was a teacher at a vocational high school, and had to come up with an additional means for her family to survive.

It was precisely in 1992 when she began making “Zulu” brand leather bags. Sure, over the years she has refined her skills considerably, it’s to the point that now her craftwork is on par with those products sold in any boutique.

“Zulu” is the first four letters of the last name of her family, made up mainly women (Hilda Zulueta, Mady and Orasnis Letamendi Zulueta), but also Paul Machin, who’s also proud of his handicrafts.

Each of their bags is unique. The dyes and leather take on a singular personality in every single object.

Nonetheless, when on March 4 the Tribuna newspaper published an article promoting the Zulu brand, even they couldn’t believe it.

They — solely with the quality and beauty of their work — had managed to find an opening in the stagnant Cuban press. Though they’ve never managed to have that feat repeated, at least those producing the Zulu brand can say they appeared there.

Looking at Zulu products, I realize that in this town, which some people try to characterize as being made up of deadbeats and loafers, isn’t at all like that. There are many creative people who only need the real opportunity, concrete facilities and, of course, the resources.

I realize that when people manage to overcome disappointment and frustration, they can come up with great ideas.

This is a Cuban family operation that I hope grows in our country and for our country.


Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

6 thoughts on “Zulu Wallets for and from Cuba

  • Where can a Zulu bag be purchased in Havana?

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