The Corner of 23rd and M / Regina Coyula

“23rd and M” is a Saturday program on Cuban television, which takes its name from the downtown corner where the TV studios are located. A massive building that also houses offices, a cinema, food service, a hairdresser and barber, and, until recently, just at the lower corner, a pharmacy.

Cuban pharmacies attract the attention of foreigners because at first they can not specify the function of those half-empty shelf spaces, full only of murals with explanations of natural medicines, posters that warn of the dangers of smoking, the importance of breastfeeding or the need for the use of condoms. The spacious pharmacy at 23rd and M did not escape these features and became an ugly wart just opposite to the Habana Libre (a famous Cuban hotel) and near the Coppelia ice cream stand. A black wall of moisture leaking from the “Mandarin” restaurant in the highest part of the building, I guess, forced the closing.

The pharmacy was dismantled and the site remained dormant for a few months until recently it has been reopened, now as part of the photo center chain “PhotoService.” Bright lights, shiny shelves, nothing suggests the newcomer who passed the corner without seeing anything of interest, that for some time there was a pharmacy that sold medications in domestic currency.

Translated by: L. Rodriguez

April 6 2011