The Bureaucracy Hinders the National Production of Masks

On Cuban streets, most of the masks worn by passersby are of domestic manufacture. (Rebeca Monzó)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 September 2020 — Three months after the announcement that Gardis, a Matanzas business group, could manufacture hygienic and surgical masks through 3D printing, the state bureaucracy continues to prevent the project from getting started.

“Although everyone has tried to help, starting with the Ministry of Economy and Planning, we have already been here for three months and today it is necessary to achieve sovereignty in this element. We do not ask for a single USD, only support for this investment,” denounced Abreu Falcón, director of Gardis, in his Facebook profile, who wondered what was missing to have the necessary investment for a project that can save the Island millions.

According to the manager, each imported mask costs the State 46 US cents, while the locally manufactured one would cost 6 cents. The savings to the state coffers, which need to avoid waste, would be significant and 140 products could be produced per minute. Falcón assured that everything is ready to work in two shifts shich, in a short time, could satisfy domestic demand with a view to exporting in the future.

However, “it is necessary for the importer to close the contract and for the Central Bank to authorize the opening of an account for specific purposes, as requested by the Governor, since the bidder is a foreigner residing in the country… We will pay you in CUC, so Cuba will not have expenses in Freely Convertible Currency,” specified the director of Gardis to questions from a user.

The idea of producing 3D masks came from the Cuban researcher Marcelino Rivas Santana and the realization was the work of scientists from the Center for the Study of Advanced and Sustainable Manufacturing (Cefas), of the University of Matanzas, according to the official press released last April.

Each mask consists of a 3D printed plastic support, an acetate sheet and an elastic for support, explained Rivas Santana at the time.

On Cuban streets, most of the masks worn by passersby are of domestic manufacture. Made with pieces of cloth, some are decorated or simply a handkerchief tied behind the head, they serve to comply with the measures requiring the wearing of a facemask that are still in force in Havana. Very few have medical masks or masks that meet the standards to avoid contagion.

As a gift to their clients, several restaurants and private businesses that offer food at home give away masks decorated with their logos and made with fabric. Seamstresses who until recently made their living making bags, kitchen potholders and other cloth accessories have now seen a commercial opportunity in developing multi-occasion masks.

Mercedes is one of them. Together with her upholsterer son, until recently she was mainly dedicated to making mattresses, sofas and furniture covers in general, but now she has developed her own line of masks, some that include embroidered figures, sequins and even phrases added with thread.

The blogger and artisan Rebeca Monzó has also been showing several of the masks she has made on her social networks. “There is already one for Christmas … just in case,” she wrote on her Facebook account next to the image of six facemasks made on her sewing machine.


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