14ymedio, Havana, 2 August 2021 — The sanitary pad factory of the state monopoly Mathisa has “a luxurious reception, offices with the required comfort, impeccable bathrooms and lockers and a dining room that resemble the best of restaurants,” but in its warehouses there are 432,000 packages of “intimates” that do not reach Cuban women due to the lack of distribution.
On Sunday, the newspaper Escambray dedicated a report to The resurrection of Mathisa, a text accompanied by several photographs in which it spares no praise for the completion of the works begun in 2018 at the plant, located in Sancti Spíritus, which have allowed the renovation of its installations.
Seven paragraphs to explain what the facilities are like, the “modern machinery” and the new work organization which allows 72,000 packages of sanitary pads to be manufactured each month, which, however, do not reach the users.
“As long as they are not delivered to the customer, it will be impossible to continue the productive rhythm and, therefore, economic procedures are affected, such as the payment of debts to suppliers and the settlement of our accounts, among others,” Mireya Gómez Saya, director of the plant, is quoted as saying at the end of the article.
The sanitary pads manufactured by Mathisa mainly supply, through the Medicines Marketing and Distribution Company (Emcomed), the pharmacies of Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey; although sometimes they are sent to other areas of the Island.
Gómez Saya maintains that there have been specific problems in the supply of raw materials, but that this is not the greatest of the difficulties. His words now corroborate the version obtained by 14ymedio through a worker at the Pétalos factory who, last February,, attributed the shortage of “intimates” to distribution in Cuba: “They come here to collect them to distribute in pharmacies, and there is no problem in production. The problem is in transporting them, I believe they have no fuel,” she revealed to this newspaper.
The events were confirmed by an Emcomed worker, who maintained that there were “transport problems.”
The problems have accumulated since October, when pharmacies in Havana stopped receiving this staple product, which is sold through the rationed market. The situation was not unique to the capital. In Santiago, shortages were also pressing. “Women are making do with Pampers. The other day I saw a few buying diapers, which caught my attention, and then I learned that they were making sanitary pads from them,” a young woman told this newspaper.
In Cuba, each woman between the ages of 10 and 55 receives through the rationed market, for 1.20 pesos, a monthly package with 10 “intimates” of the Mariposa brand and manufactured by the state monopoly Mathisa. It is a product with a very bad image, not only because it does not reach the public but because of its quality. Among Cuban women, there is constant criticism of its low absorption capacity, its discomfort, and even the lack of glue to adhere to underwear.
In Cienfuegos and Ciego de Ávila there were the same cases of lack of distribution. In this last province, Cuban television even warned of the problems that were taking place, because even the 10 sanitary pads that the State presumably guarantees are insufficient according to the medical recommendations to change them every four hours.
Instead, the black market has a wide variety of products – from pads and tampons to menstrual cups – with prices that are double or triple those of even hard currency stores themselves.
Nothing has been resolved in the five months that have passed since the 14ymedio note on the subject, and nine months since the product began to be missing and the packages are still far from their consumers.
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