In Cuba, to Buy Diapers You Have to Prove You Have a Child

The Cuban state store La Borla put diapers on sale this Friday. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 18 February 2022 — There was considerable tumult this Friday at the gates of La Borla, in Galiano between Salud and Reina, in Centro Habana. The state store, which takes payment in pesos, put diapers on sale, an item that has disappeared in national currency; but not everyone who went to the store could buy them.

Only those with a ’minor’s card’ and one which proved with the curnames, that the baby who was to be the recipient was the buyer’s child, or that the mother was pregnant, was it possible to buy second-stage diapers (for babies from from 11 to 16 pounds ) and at a price of 265 pesos each package.

This caused a dispute between the fifty people waiting at the entrance and the store administrators.

Some of the customers in line argued that they live in the interior, were not carrying the minor’s identification with them. Given this, one of the women who guarded the door replied that “everyone says the same thing” and, later they “resell” the package for 500 pesos.

And the employee was inflexible, declaring loudly: “I don’t care if he’s from the countryside or from Matanzas, if he doesn’t bring the minor’s card, it won’t happen. They said it on television: disposable diapers with the minor’s card, I’m not going to argue with anyone.”

This newspaper discovered that in front of La Borla, in the El Curita park, there was a man dealing in packages of newly purchased diapers. “I’m not saying it won’t happen, compañera,” protested another customer, who tried to explain that he is from Pinar del Río, that he works in construction in Havana, that he did not carry his son’s card and that he needed to buy diapers. “What do I do now?” he implored.

“And even if you didn’t have a child or it was someone else’s,” another buyer told her. “Why can’t we buy the diapers we want?”

Diapers for children and adults have been for years a product that fluctuates in the Cuban market. That is why families resort to solutions such as washing and later reusing already used disposable diapers, buying padding to make their own versions of these necessary protectors or converting large sizes into small ones and vice versa, with the help of the use of duct tape and other tricks.

The first cellulose and polymer diapers that were sold in Cuba arrived with the economic opening of the 1990s and the dollarization of the economy. Until that moment, in the homes of the Island only cloth ones were known, which had to be washed after each use. With the commercialization of disposable diapers, many Cuban women were able to spend less time in front of washing machines and tubs.

However, at first, the sale of these accessories was only in dollars or convertible pesos, which made them a status symbol that only families that received remittances or had economic income in foreign currency could afford.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.