The Sierra Maestra building in Havana’s Miramar district.

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – In the Sierra Maestra building (CIMEX) of Miramar, is a Metropolitan Bank, a Banco International Financiero, an ATM … and a recently opened chain of stores, and a modern cafe.

Each one sells something different: lingerie, food, perfume, sportswear and leather, there’s even one called the House of Gastronomy where giant pots and pans sold (I imagine for restaurants), and other supplies. All very well designed with a great display of elegance and good taste.

But what certainly catches my attention is the small amount of customers served at each of these stores, which sell only in CUC, the hard currency that Cubans don’t receive their wages in.

Every time I go to the bank to do some business, I see the empty stores (not merchandise). I go in to look around and only see and hear the clerks gossiping, talking about soap operas and other inconsequential things.

Neither is the cafe very popular, because many people cannot spend money on a cup of coffee with sweets, preferring to meet their basic needs.

It could be the inappropriate location of the establishments, almost hidden in the basement of the building or the little promotion … but I think the main reason are the high prices of what is sold, and only the supermarket is “accessible” to some people.

Is this profitable? Why are these employees paid a salary for doing virtually nothing all day?


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

3 thoughts on “Cuba: Decorative State-Run Stores

  • A friend of mine manages the MANGO women’s clothing store in the shopping mall attached to the Hotel Comodoro in Miramar. She says it is commonplace to have only one or two sales on any given day during the week and only 4 or 5 paying customers on Saturday or Sunday. Nonetheless, she goes to work every day, turns on all the lights, runs the air-conditioner and employs 4 other people. The clothes are expensive even by US standards and well beyond even wealthy Cubans clothing budget. This store would stay open a month if it actually had to be profitable. Is it any wonder the Cuban economy is in the shape it’s in?

  • the Cubans should revolt!
    but they are cowards.

  • Irina Pino hey what is your point? STOP CRITICIZING REMEMBER THE 52 YEARS OLD U.S. EMBARGO. if you don’t like don’t go to the stores or get out of Cuba

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