Wholesaler / Yoani Sanchez

Candy, sweets, coconut bars covered in sugar, all that and more makes up the offerings of a small cafe near the bus stop. There are good days and bad days, when it sells a lot or very little. But the real issue is not the marketing of candy, but the purchase of raw material to make it. Lacking a wholesale market, for years the owner of the place has had to buy every ingredient at wholesale prices. Unable to make a profit this way, she also dives into the informal market to buy flour, syrups and even the paper she wraps the sweets in before giving them to customers.

Without these illegal measures, her business would have folded quickly. Thus, a few days ago, the troubled lady happily received the news that a wholesale market would open to serve self-employed workers.

A new resolution signed in February allows the creation of a State company that will offer products and services to the emerging private sector. By mid-year it will be possible to access food, computer equipment and real estate, with costs targeted to individual entrepreneurs.

If all goes according to what the law says, the opening of this wholesale market will reduce the illegal importing of goods as well as the illicit sales networks. For years the so-called “mules” have brought food and clothing to the Island, particularly from the United States and Ecuador.

The contraband has made it possible for many of the cafes, restaurants and private businesses to sustain themselves. Thus the Cuban government’s urgency to recover for itself the large mount of money that moves beyond its reach. But the measure comes a little late, the underground economy has gained so much strength it will be hard to sanitize it.