14ymedio, Natalia Lopez Moya, Havana, November 13, 2021 — Old towels, ripped-up sheets and T-shirts are now being used to clean the floors of Cuban homes. In the absence of mop cloths, which have been missing from store shelves for months, families set aside articles of clothing to use at the bottom end of the traditional mop stick, a stalwart symbol of Cuban house cleaning.
“It seems we’re going backwards in time,” a lady is heard to say on Thursday outside a store selling powdered bleach. The woman, old enough to remember the challenges of the Special Period, recollects how in the 1990s her house had no towels: “They were none for sale and the few we already had we used for cleaning.
“For months it’s been hard to get basic products like food and detergent. But you can’t find mop cloths anywhere. I haven’t even seen them in the hard currency stores,” explains a resident of Havana’s Cerro neighborhood.
Official priced at 15 pesos ($0.62), production relies on imported raw materials, which have been in short supply since late 2019. Officials warned of shortages and in provinces like Villa Clara they explored the possibility of limiting sales to the rationed market. The shortage has caused the price on the informal market to skyrocket, to as much as 150 pesos.
A meme on social media captures the gravity of the situation with a touch of humor characteristic of this medium. “The order has been given to arrest the sweatshirts,” reads the text, echoing the words of President Miguel Diaz-Canel during the July 11 protests. In this case, however, the victims are the towels, shirts and T-shirts destined to be used for cleaning floors.
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