Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
I can’t say the prices are affordable or that the shoes are of top-notch quality (I’ve had more than one disappointing experience in this regard), but there’s always a pair that makes me return to the crafts market.
What’s more, the products sold at the government’s hard-currency stores are anything but attractive, at least to me.
However, I don’t want to make this post about shoes or about the well-known differences between these two markets, but about the conditions under which a group of self-employed craft-people labor near my home. One of the things they make, see, are shoes.
I am referring to the store Fin de Siglo, located at the intersection of Galiano and San Rafael, Havana, a place where the stuffiness and sweltering ambience of poorly-ventilated locales strikes you when you go inside.
There are no openings, windows, holes, skylights, chimneys or anything that allows for the circulation of air.
Despite this, one sees people crowding, observing, buying and selecting products around the different sale points, while the vendors sweat and try to market their products.
Surrounded by the noise and an atmosphere befouled by bad smells and the crowds of toing-and-froing of people, one fails to see a good reason why people should work under such conditions, or why services should be offered the public this way.
A short-term solution (air conditioning would be dreaming at this point) that could work could be to have the workers remodel the place themselves. They are, after all, the most directly affected by these poor working conditions.