In Cuba, a New Reason to Line Up: To Buy Plastic Bags at 1 Peso to Sell Them for 4

Queue to buy nylon bags, at 17 y K, Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerThe ritual of the line was extended this Tuesday to anyone who wanted to buy plastic bags. A long line dawned at the 17 y K food market, in the Havana neighborhood of El Vedado, where a jaba — a flimsy plastic bag — sold for one peso.

“They have already handed out the ‘tickets’ [that mark the places in line],” a woman told a man who came asking who was last in line. “Is this new? Now they also handing out turns to buy bags?” reproached the newcomer.

Shortly afterwards, in a corner of the central market, several street vendors hawked jabas at 4 pesos each. Some shoppers, who preferred not to line up, approached hesitantly and, in the end, ended up buying the bags at the black market price.

In a corner of the central market, several street vendors hawked the plastic bags at 4 pesos each. (14ymedio)

“Cuba is fighting climate change, we will get to the disappearance of plastic bags before anyone else,” said a woman sarcastically after buying five bags for 20 pesos.

The popular jabas are rarely seen in the state’s network of retail stores. They are absent not only from stores where people can pay in Cuban pesos, they are also scarce in hard currency stores, where the customer has to bring their own bags so as not to have to carry the products in their hands.

In Cuba, it is very common to find elderly or retired people selling plastic bags at the door of agricultural markets, bakeries and other businesses, and in this way to be able to have an extra income.


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