The measure, effective this Wednesday, leaves the purchasing frequency in the hands of the local administration depending on availability.
HAVANA TIMES – Beginning this Wednesday, the sale of diapers and wet wipes in the Caribbean and Cimex Stores will be done in a controlled manner in the municipalities of Havana. The authorities seek to limit the maneuvering of the resellers, who have exponentially increased the price of the product on the black market by multiplying its cost by five.
To purchase these products it will be necessary to present the pregnancy card from week 26, or the child’s card up to 2 years, 11 months and 29 days, as announced on Monday by Julio A. Martínez Roque, objectives coordinator of the Government of Havana.
The measure implies the provincial decentralization of both products, so from now on it will be the Municipal Boards of Directors who decide, depending on availability, how often the two packs of diapers and one of wet wipes set by the regulations can be sold.
The acquisition will be noted in the libreta of the municipality where it is purchased or resides, “as appropriate,” explains the document, disseminated on the social networks of the local administration. The circular also empowers the Municipal Councils “to evaluate and decide the sale” to those who suffer from “chronic and acute diseases, which require such products.”
“Are they going to supply all the butts in Havana with wet wipes? Because in the peripheral municipalities it is impossible,” says a user in response to the post by the government of Plaza de la Revolución that denounces the bad practices of the workers of the stores themselves. “They are the ones who call the resellers, and it is easier for them to run out of the goods quickly, so as not to have to work. If that is the decision, I imagine it’s for all the stores, at least one per neighborhood in all of Havana, which I doubt.”
A few days ago, the official press denounced how in Havana, simultaneously, there was an enormous lack of diapers in the stores that take payment in national money, and the diapers were being sold on the black market at a price five times their cost. “Today I could say that there are people who have more packages of wet wipes in their homes than there are in the warehouses,” the note said.
The text was written from the personal experience of a Cuban journalist of Cuba Sí, Cynthia Hernández Mayol, mother of a baby, who tells how less than a month ago she had to “sacrifice a whole day to stand in line” in a store in El Vedado where the women who were waiting “began to sneak in front of each other and the store manager decided not to sell any more that day.”
The journalist said that the person in charge of the store herself scolded the women for coming “several times in the same week” and that, right there, she saw a young woman resell six packages of size 1.
By that day, the order that enters into force tomorrow, which is dated October 23 and has aroused a flood of comments among the habaneros who complain about the shortages that exist in most municipalities with the exception of the most central ones, had already been signed. “In Habana del Este, more specifically in Alamar and even in Conseja de Altura, those products have had to last a very long time due to their absence,” complains one user.
Also, the residents in those areas feel harmed because people come from all over the city to buy, leaving the local residents with nothing. “Plaza is the only municipality where there are stores that sell to everyone, and those affected are the people who live there. Starting with Galerías Paseo and La Infancia, mainly,” protests another commentator.
“I hope that this measure does away, once and for all, with the resellers. And we need them to stock a lot in all the stores in each municipality, because otherwise it all backfires,” says another.
The shortage of disposable diapers has become chronic in Cuba in recent times. In 2019, the State began producing them in the Mariel Special Development Zone through a contract with a Vietnamese company. The plant planned to produce 120 million diapers per year, but in mid-2022 there was a growing shortage, which forced the sale to be restricted. The director of Cimex held Thai Binh Global Investment Corporation responsible for the situation.
Yusleydi Lezcano Palmero said at the time that imports had been reduced to “improve Mariel’s supplier,” but the demand was excessive and there were problems acquiring the raw material. “Sometimes we have had potholes, because due to an internal logistical issue of the Vietnamese company, the wet wipes arrive minutes or hours later or do not arrive on the agreed day,” he said. Almost 95%, he admitted at the time, were destined for Havana, which is the province where their sale is now going to be controlled.
Meanwhile, on digital sites that sell products for emigrants to buy for their families on the Island, a person can buy, without limits, both disposable diapers and wet wipes. On these portals, customers who pay with foreign currency cards have the possibility to choose between different brands, packages of different quantities and products designed for babies with allergies or other more conventional ones.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba