Will the mattress arrive before the baby turns a year old? / 14ymedio,
Posted on March 28, 2015
14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 28 March 2015 — The
Gonzalez family baby slept her first weeks in a plastic tub lined with
sheets and blankets. She could not use the crib because her parents did
not manage to buy the mattress that is assigned by the Santiago de Cuba
ration market to expectant mothers.
Shortages of the product and delays in its arrival to those in need
create discomfort and situations like that of this baby in homes all
over the country but with greater severity in the eastern region.
Outside of some stores intended for that purpose there are long lines of
pregnant women and their families to buy the so-called "module basket"
that is given at a subsidized price to each mother. The prices in the
free market are unaffordable for a good many families. They need at
least 50 convertible pesos (CUC) in order to get a mattress in the hard
currency market, while the average monthly salary does not exceed 20 CUC.
Many of these mothers will celebrate the first birthdays of their
children without the children having been able to enjoy a crib with a
mattress. Such is the case of one young woman who preferred to remain
anonymous and who was waiting this Wednesday in the line of the El
Atardecer industrial products store. Her daughter is about to turn a
year old, but she still has to sleep in a crib with an old mat repaired
many times and that was loaned to her by a relative.
Yamile Fonseca, resident of the Nuevo Van Van area, had a little more
luck and says that "almost when the ration book was expiring I could buy
the mattress, but that was a pure pain and a line that no one could
stand." Others simply give up and resort to the illicit market or
inherit part of the "basket" items from a sister or a cousin.
Beatriz Mena, clerk at an Industrial store, says that "they have only
brought the product twice" to the store where she works. In those cases
"they have sold to those mothers whose basket ration book is expiring
and whose babies are turning a year old," the others have had to wait
until they are resupplied, she said.
When the product arrives at one of the commercial units devoted to that
purpose, then the drama becomes the line. Jose Bonne, father of a
10-month old girl, staked out the front of the Industrial this Tuesday
from four in the morning in order to be able to be one of the first.
"When I arrived there were already more than ten people who, since
earlier hours, were marking their place in line in order not to be left
without the mattress."
The manager of the store in the Altamira suburb said that "it has come
to the unit on several occasions but the ones who have not bought are
still more than those who have left with the product." The lady says
that "the mattresses that they leave are very few, and we have a great
number of pregnant and newly post-partum women and the demand outstrips
the quantities supplied.
Another person, who preferred not to give his name, says that "when the
mattresses arrive at the industrial products stores, now the clerks in
cahoots with the management get most of them, which are sold to those
whose turn has not come up, but who pay extra money and so acquire them
ahead of time."
For her part, Yelaine Suarez said that when the mattresses arrive in the
commission stores there are people who dedicate themselves to the sale
of places in line for the amount of ten convertible pesos. "It is unfair
to see how they take advantage of the opportunity in order to do things
Cuban women point to economic problems and difficulties in materially
supporting a baby as among the main causes for the low birth rate that
the country is now experiencing; the Total Fertility Rate fell in 2012
to the worrying figure of 1.69 children per woman.
David Fernandez, resident of Alturas de Versalles, says that in the
Altamira store they got crib mattresses at 300 pesos national currency,
sold off the ration book. The resident of the place asks how it is
possible that there are stocks for that but not for those women who have
the "basket" ration book.
The complaints come and go and many babies keep waiting to sleep in a
crib with a mattress. Meanwhile, their parents improvise a little bed
and take turns standing in line in front of the store.
Translated by MLK
Source: Will the mattress arrive before the baby turns a year old? /
14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta | Translating Cuba -