Cuba’s Dual Purpose Newspapers

By Circles Robinson

Carlos III Shopping Center in Havana
Carlos III Shopping Center in Havana

HAVANA TIMES, Aug. 14 – Every few months toilet paper becomes scarce in the Cuban capital, where people are accustomed to cutting up old newspapers to fill the gap.  This deficit can last for weeks, until the centralized importation mechanism manages to make another purchase and the inflexible distribution chain supplies it to the stores.

Several news publications, starting with USA Today, have run stories on the current shortage.

When toilet paper finally appears again, lines will form at shopping centers and other stores for consumers to stock up. Everybody knows the routine.

Why does this problem recur at least a few times a year?

While such information is not made known to the public,  it symbolizes the gaps between producers or importers, distributors, retailers and the bureaucrats signing the checks -virtually all State-owned companies and institutions.

The rigid specialization of each aspect of getting the product on store shelves means that if any rung in the ladder fails or somebody miscalculates, the public suffers the consequences, since the other rungs are not empowered to act on their own.

Likewise, when making purchases on such a large scale it’s easy to make a mistake on the quantities or the distribution.  Since purchase plans often appear to be overly strict, any error is paid for by 11.2 million Cubans.  If anyone takes the time to complain they can expect the US blockade to inevitably be the catch-all excuse for the situation.

And while Cuba’s newspapers do the job when the TP is out, they too are scarce and don’t come close to meeting the demand.

USA Today noted Friday that Cuba imports TP and produces its own, but doesn’t have the raw materials to make it at this moment.  The government is short on cash, notes the newspaper, adding that during the current global economic crisis Cuba is spending more for imports and receiving less for its exports.

5 thoughts on “Cuba’s Dual Purpose Newspapers

  • I live in Canada and almost always take my shower right after the number two, so I largely go without toilet paper as well. Not a big deal. Huge portions of my home lands’ old growth cedar trees have been cut down for toilet paper. That’s a big deal.

  • It just goes to show how pathetic communism is!

    If you can’t get the message through your head that communism is a dismal failure when the toilet paper runs out then you need serious help!

  • If the government of cuba actually wanted to supply all of those thigs that they have promised the people it would be there readily available. they just dont care about the welfare of the people. Tho Venezuela supplies petroleum, the government is more intersted in reselling it for their own profits than using to provide the electricity to power the air conditioners at the offices where people work. The government just does not care about the people. evidnce of this abounds

  • Cubans without toilet paper train themselves to go to the bathroom before showering. It’s a practical skill which one learns over time. Not having toilet paper a nuisance. Really, it’s a pain in the ass. Literally. But it’s not the worst thing in the world. People in the so-called advanced capitalist countries may not have toilet paper, but then, millions don’t have health coverage or even a roof over their heads. Those are rather worse than not having toilet paper.

    Google the phrase: thousands line up for free health care in los angeles

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