14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2021 — More than 600 mothers and fathers of Santiago de Cuba have repudiated the exclusive sale in foreign currency of most of the products they need to make up the basic supplies for their babies. In a letter delivered this Monday to the authorities of the Government and the Communist Party of Cuba, the signers explain that they depend on their salaries in pesos and do not have access to freely convertible currency (MLC).
“The letter was written because they are now selling pampers in MLC,” (stores that only take foreign currency) one of the mothers from Santiago who signed the document tells 14ymedio; she says this was “the last straw.”
“It seems that the buzz came to the authorities and then they put some diapers for sale in national currency but most of them are still being sold in foreign currency,” she adds.
The letter, an initiative of the members of the Facebook group “Everything for babies” in Santiago de Cuba, denounces that currently “all cleaning products, hygiene, jams, even clothing and footwear” are sold in foreign currency, so they propose “that products such as pampers, wet wipes, soaps, bath gel also be available in stores in national currency,” among other products.
The parents claim that, faced with the situation, they are forced to buy everything they need from resellers “at exorbitant prices” and that they do so with their children in mind: “our children do not understand the economic crisis, pandemic or problems.”
Santiago journalist and audiovisual producer Carlos Melián tells this newspaper that a few weeks ago he made a walk through the city in search of diapers: “A few months ago all the stores were full of disposable diapers and water, but lately they are all closed and when I have gone out to look for them I have not found any or they are available only in MLC [foreign currency].”
“Right now the fundamental problem is that to buying anything here in the MLC stores is difficult because they are full of coleros [people who stand in line for others] and there is a dawn [when one must get in line] and I am afraid of catching Covid,” explains Melián, the father of a one-and-a-half-year old. “What I decided was to wash the diapers by hand. It depresses me a lot to stand in those lines and expose myself to the disease, I prefer to do the wash every night.”
The supply of the product is also very irregular in Havana, says Marieta, mother of a two-month-old boy and a girl of 18-months, speaking tothis newspaper. “Sometimes I get some for the girl but not for the smallest baby because they do not sell all the sizes,” she explains. “People buy the product in foreign currency stores and then resell it. On the street a package for newborns can go up to 500 pesos.”
“Those who have families abroad who can buy them in digital stores are saved, because they can be found there, but you have to pay in dollars and from abroad,” he says. In several digital portals consulted by 14ymedio, the price of 36 baby diapers ranged between 15 and 20 dollars, but they are not sold for all stages there either.
Many mothers have returned to the custom of cloth diapers, but the option complicates the day-to-day with continuous washing and the high consumption of detergent. “The few disposables that I get I use on some days of the week but most of the time I have them on cloth, it is a slavery because the washing never ends,” adds Marieta.
“The ones that we buy for now, which are the Premium Plus, are made here in Cuba, in Mariel, they cost 275 pesos but you can only buy two per person,” says a couple from the Cuban capital with a 10-month-old baby. “We buy the Premium because they are better, the difference is noticeable, in reality there always is, but there is a limitation on the quantity.”
Added to the instability in the sale of the pampers are other concerns of the Santiago parents. In their letter they propose that it be considered to include “all the products in the supply book, in the basket or sell them as modules.” They point out that “it is necessary to guarantee the sale of food for children from six months of age” upon presentation of the minor’s card and at the price of the State.
“An adult may be able to stop eating one day (which is not ideal because we must have our body fed to raise, fight for our children, work), but a child needs proteins, meats, food, vegetables for their growth and proper development, but with such high prices,” it becomes very difficult to feed babies, they explain.
They also demand that “the cycle of delivery of milk in the warehouses” be complied with, that medicines be “commercialized in a controlled manner,” the sale of household electrical equipment such as fans and mixers, and that the prices of food be reviewed “because they are in the clouds.”
They complained about the exclusive sale of sweets in MLC: “Beyond what can be explained to them, it is frustrating, in these times of confinement, that a child asks you for a lollipop, jams, sweets, telling you that they are hungry but that they don’t want food and you don’t have to give him, not being able to please him with such basic things. “
At the end of the document they made it clear that they will continue to insist on finding solutions in “any instance.”
“When it comes to a child there are no limits, there are no barriers, we stop living ourselves, to live for them.”
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