Beer Returns to the Children’s Area of Carlos III Plaza Because "It’s Necessary to Carry Out the Plan"

Caption: Families with children have no qualms about drinking alcohol while the little ones use the animal and spaceship-shaped rides (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 August 2018 — The prohibition of alcohol sales in the children’s area of Carlos III Plaza in Havana lasted less than three months. The administration of the largest mall in Cuba’s capital once again has allowed the consumption of beer in the cafeterias adjoining the children’s play area, as confirmed by 14ymedio.

In June the sale of alcoholic beverages on the building’s ground floor was suspended to prevent the proximity of children from customers drinking beer. The measure was adopted after the situation was denounced in various independendent media sources, even winding up on official television.

The management of Carlos III Plaza at that time set up a series of tables in the outside area of the mall where it was possible to consume beer and other alcoholic beverages. However, the improvised cafeteria was recently closed down and the sale of alcohol returned to the inside of the building.

The employee in the customer service office declined this Friday to make any statements on what happened, but a worker at the bag-check assured that “they’re orders from above.” The measure was revoked for “economic reasons, because this place has to carry out a plan and beer is one of the most-sold products.”

“Sales have fallen a lot and although it’s true that there had been a lot of peace and quiet, this is a mall, not a convent,” declares an employee who sells snacks, pizza, and beer in the area a few yards away from electric rides where small children play. “The numbers were in the red,” he confirms.

Several employees chalk the decision up to “the high demand for beer and other alcoholic beverages in the summer.” School vacations coincide with many parents who work in state centers also taking a break. “We were losing a lot of money,” confirms the snack seller.

Although some signs still say that the consumption of rum is prohibited, the salespeople justify themselves by saying that they are not committing any violation because “here beer is what sells, we haven’t sold a shot of Havana Club nor a box of Planchado rum.”

In July, when the prohibition was in effect, a man who worked at the place confirmed to this newspaper that every day they were suffering losses, that the bread was going bad and they sold almost no fried chicken, which were the favorite accompanying dishes for people coming to drink alcohol.

Here the complaints of parents who come to spend some leisure time with the electric rides are beginning to be heard again. “It was easy to imagine that this situation would repeat itself because here when it is a question of making money everything else is set aside, even childhood,” laments Claribel Ledezma, grandmother of a four-year-old girl.

“I live near this place and I remember when it first opened the only people who came to drink a few beers were rich people, but now you see many people have money to spend on alcoholic beverages,” the woman believes. “Some groups come in the morning and leave in the afternoon totally drunk. Children have to watch this kind of spectacle.”

Other families with children have no qualms consuming alcohol while the little ones use the animal and spaceship-shaped rides. “They have fun and so do we,” says Pablo, father of seven-year-old twins. “After all, they live in Cuba and they have to get used to the fact that things are this way.”

In 2005 a resolution published in the Official Gazette prohibited the sale of alcohol, including beer, to minors under the age of 16. The alarms went off after it was noticed that the drinking age hadn’t stopped dropping on the island.

On average drinking alcohol starts at 15 years old. The psychologist Justo Fabelo Rochy, coordinator of the You Decide project, which tries to create awareness of the problem among adolescents, warns that given this situation many adults who develop an alcohol addiction started drinking at these early ages.


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