14ymedio, Rosa Lopez, Havana, 28 August 2015 — Every summer national television calls on us to save electricity, reports the high temperatures and disseminates statements by officials of the Ministry of Education in which they assure us that school uniforms are guaranteed. However, year after year, complaints about deficient supplies and problems with the sizes of these garments return to inflame public opinion.
On this occasion the sale started in the capital on May 25 and will extend to December 31. According to prime time news, “The industry did its part and fulfilled the order for 699,000 garments,” for Havana’s students. However, beginning in the first half of July, the uniforms began to “go missing.”
“I spent a week looking for a girl’s skirt, but all I find are huge sizes,” says Caridad, the mother of a little girl who will enter first grade this year. “They told me the only place that has any left is the store on Dolores Street in Lawton. So I will go there,” says a determined but otherwise exhausted mother.
“I have all sizes of uniforms,” an illegal vendor boasted Tuesday on the outskirts of La Cuevita, a known enclave for everything one needs to buy under the table
Among the reasons for such a poor offering is the pilfering of more than 11,000 elementary, polytechnic and high school uniforms from the wholesale warehouses, according to a report that appeared Wednesday night on national television.
So far the authorities have not specified if the perpetrators of the robbery have been arrested, but the informal market shows all the evidence of having received a large assortment.
“I have all sizes of uniforms,” an illegal vendor boasted Tuesday on the outskirts of La Cuevita, a known enclave for everything one needs to buy under the table. You just have to follow her to a nearby shack for her to show you the merchandise. There are blouses and skirts for girls in elementary school, a complete set for boys, and also junior high uniforms. They sell for 100 Cuban pesos (just under $4 US) for each set, more than ten times the price in State stores.
Manuela, retired from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is blunt, ”They should shoot those engaged in reselling uniforms, because this is very sensitive because it’s about our children.” She expressed this opinion loudly in front of her daughter and two granddaughters, outside the store at 20 de Mayo and Ayesteran streets, in El Cerro. But the young woman accompanying her didn’t agree with her opinion. “On the contrary, they should get a medal, because at least they do better than the State,” she opined.
The deficit has forced the provincial trade company to take a series of measures so that an assortment of the most popular sizes will reach Havana
The deficit has forced the provincial trade company to take a series of measures so that an assortment of the most popular sizes will reach Havana. “Undress one saint to dress another,” quipped a grandmother accompanied by her seven-year-old granddaughter when she was told to expect supplies from other provinces.
“Keep checking back every day,” an employee told a mother who couldn’t find pants in her son’s size at an establishment in Central Havana. “This woman thinks that I have nothing else to do in my life but to look for a uniform,” she commented to other customers who also left the store empty handed.
Both the Provincial Education Department and the Provincial Trade Company have issued a call for calm and promised that in the coming weeks uniforms will return to fill the state stores, especially the small sizes. By then, those who have not bought on the black market or used their seamstress skills to alter a large garment, may have their chance.