TRD (hard-currency) stores will no longer sell shoes in Mayari, Holguin
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Shoes haven’t come into Mayari, Holguín’s stores, for over six months now. And, this widespread shortage unfortunately extends to the rest of the province and the island, to a greater or lesser extent. It seems to be the result of the financial crisis that has hit the national economy at every level and its negative impact on imports of basic items.
Belonging to the army’s GAESA corporation, the chain of TRD stores (there are two such establishments in my city) no longer has footwear to sell. It has even reorganized the business purpose of its stores and decided that it will no longer sell shoes in Mayari, only in Nicaro. A town that is 21 kms away.
That’s to say, that neither “La Amistad” or “La Isla” stores will be selling shoes from now on. Even if stock comes in later this year or the next, people will have to travel approximately 30 kms to Cueto or 21 kms to Nicaro in order to buy this product at these stores. This is all happening in a municipality which is also experiencing a transport crisis, making the decision an anti-commercial and unpopular measure that nobody can get their head around.
“We don’t know anything; it was just a guideline the Chain’s management passed on and that’s what we are going to do. In the end, it hasn’t had a negative impact yet because there aren’t any shoes to sell anyway. But, once supplies do come in and people realize that we won’t be selling them here because of a management decision, complaints will come pouring in,” remarked an employee at the “La Amistad” store.
Alexey, a young man who exchanges foreign currency in front of these stores gave his take on the situation: “These people have lost half their brains, you know what it’s going to be like not to sell shoes in the municipal capital and sell them in a small town which is so far away, when we don’t even have transport to get there? It doesn’t make sense to anyone. Things are just getting worse and they always find a way to screw the Cuban people over a little more. They never do anything to help,” he concluded.
Marisol, a housewife who receives remittances from the US, also weighed in: “Thank God for private sellers who bring their merchandise from Mexico, Guyana or Panama. Things are getting ugly and it seems like we’re returning back to those tough times. People are afraid and all the young people want to leave Cuba.”
“And, look here, they’ve made production plans and they are signing business agreements with other countries every day and nothing is changing for the better, we’re just moving backwards all the time. They said we’d be all good by 2030, but at this rate, we’ll probably be waiting in line for water then,” she concluded.
For their part, private crafts persons have benefitted. According to Jose, a private shoemaker, “Ever since there haven’t been any shoes in the store, we’ve been selling a lot more. We have similar prices and, even though the ones coming from the factory are prettier, the ones we sell are stronger and longer-lasting.
People are finding ways around it, but it is true that they complain about stores not selling shoes. People want to have several options. However, Cubans always invent and wherever the State falls short, that’s where we come in.”
Our country has been experiencing a severe crisis since 1959, resulting from the Revolution’s inviable economic model. However, due to more adverse circumstances, there have been more acute periods of shortages. The longest was the infamous Special Period in the early/mid 1990s, which the country sank into after the Soviet Bloc collapsed.
Some analysts predict that Cuba is gradually moving into a new Special Period, as a result of many hostile factors. This can be felt in shortages of many items such as food products, medicine and shoes. However, the government refuses to recognize it as such and only sees it as a temporary “difficult situation”.