Cuba Is Running Out of Condoms (and Beer!)

Categories: La Habana

Photo by Gildemax via Wikimedia Commons
In Cuba -- where sudden shortages of everyday products are as commonplace as Fidel columns bashing the oligarchy -- condoms have always been a reliable stand-in for everything from kids' birthday balloons to bootleg beach balls. Even during the worst of times, the government kept dirt-cheap, Chinese-made rubbers on shelves around the nation.

But this month, condoms have suddenly become as hard to find in Havana as a George W. Bush T-shirt. The run on prophylactics, along with ongoing potato and beer shortfalls, is casting doubt on the Castro regime's claims that a slowly privatizing economy will make empty store shelves a problem of the past.

Here's what Cuban writer Miriam Celaya has to say on her blog, Sin Evasion (translated to English):

Now it turns out that the shortages have reached condoms, those attachments needed for the safe practice of what some call "the national sport." Things have reached such an extreme that it has come to the point where drugstores and pharmacies have mobilized staff to change the expiration dates that appear on these already-expired products to "update" them and be able to sell them. There is testimony that in some of Cuba's interior provinces, this task has been assigned to recruits doing their military service: a strategy of total combat in the face of the alarms set off by this small and humble latex object. According to the authorities, this is being done "because the dates on the containers were wrong."

Consumers, however, are wary. In a country where corruption and deceit are part of the reality, no one feels safe. Some paranoiacs go to the extreme of suspecting it's part of an official conspiracy to promote births in Cuba... What it really does is lead to an increase in abortions.

In the past, condoms were sold for as little as three for a penny; now the price has rocketed to $1.30 for one rubber -- the daily wage for many Cuban workers, the Miami Herald notes.

Condoms don''t represent the only shortage hitting the island. Ceyala also writes that toilet paper and potatoes have recently been difficult to find, while another report says beer has been in short supply.

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34 comments
immigrants2bfree
immigrants2bfree

Toilet paper is in short supply because they are sending it to Venezuela.

buffalowny
buffalowny

Shortages? Ask any Puerto Rican about shortages including rice, water and electricity..

Nadia Tamara Ramaglia
Nadia Tamara Ramaglia

And the world keeps blind because they go to these countries and stay on Tourist Heaven. Do you actually know any Cubans that made makeshift raft in secret with whatever they can come up with to escape the dictatorship of Castro even if that means dying in the Ocean? Do you know people get thrown in jail for speaking against their ruler? Yes, maybe you need a trip to open your eyes but it can only happen if when you go you skip the fantasy and go into the streets and see how people really live.

jesse230.jr
jesse230.jr

AIDS is the real problem in Cuba among many, not pregnancy

Johnny Sterlin
Johnny Sterlin

Time for a company to come up with a reusable condom.....

Robert Bischof
Robert Bischof

That's not the picture painted by Canadian friends that vacation in Cuba, they like it so much they went back twice..........we see the same run down street and old Chevrolet that we have been seeing for years.....soon as we can, I look forward to a trip to Havana........

Shawn O'Brion
Shawn O'Brion

Just what south Florida needs. Another Marielito surge in 20 years.

John Nunez
John Nunez

Not beer. Plenty of beer in cuba . Condoms idk but there's ways around that

eddie07
eddie07

Ps. Why does the US trade with China with no restrictions who is communist and practices human rights violations regularly? Hipocrocy at its finest.

eddie07
eddie07

Im not cuban, but NT published a similar article one week before i went to cuba some time ago saying that cuba was the only place on left on earth where Coke doesnt exist.

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/06/cubas_now_almost_the_only_plac.php

Well, let me just say that not only is there coca cola in cuba, and not just in tourists parts, since i didnt stay in tourists parts. But they have like two other brands of national colas as well, Tropicola and Frescola. So, again to me this current article is just another example of propaganda. Second, you have no idea how many passangers fly to cuba daily from miami, and each one of these people take loads of cargo including electronics, new cloths, food and snacks, and yes, boxes of condoms if needed. From what i saw, Cuba also does high trade from mexico and brasil. Any one of these can provide low priced condoms in the pennies range. So i call BullSht on this article.

John Leblanc
John Leblanc

If there's no rubbers, more Cubans are born. They grow up and try to come here. Then it becomes a United States problem, let's not be so ignorant Paul Hackman

Vanessa Ortiz
Vanessa Ortiz

this article is about various shortages and dishonest behavior signaling increasing government inefficacy. but no one reeeeaaads.

Barbara Guttman
Barbara Guttman

It's amazing what " governments " deem important in different societies .... Some give free syringes for IV drug use( some even the drugs) or free flu shots.... I remember the Doc on their medical system and how Americans were taking trips to get cheaper prices( for the same company produced pharmaceutical products sold for triple or more here) it's unfortunate that governments control what they feel is important to its citizens..... Especially here ..., when the Fed allows states different regulations or deregulations when it comes to the health of workers and their safety.

Gregory Maestre
Gregory Maestre

Condoms should be free here. People should be free there.

Arlene Delice
Arlene Delice

That's sucks. Condoms are essential should be free there

Gregory Maestre
Gregory Maestre

WHAT! No condoms or beer. It is officially time for the UN and the US to intervene. Or I guess rubbers and Mr. Beer kits will now be included in the gusanos.

Roberto Alba-Bustamante
Roberto Alba-Bustamante

@Paul Hackman - it matters because a large percentage of Miami New Times readers are either from Cuba, of Cuban descent or have relatives and family in Cuba. You might not care but many of us do.

Paul Hackman
Paul Hackman

Good for them why don't we worrie about what the hell is going on over here instead of Cuba or any other country for that matter we have enough problems that need dealt with here in the USA!!!!!!!!!

aldoinmiami
aldoinmiami

I'm sure you will pack tons of condoms on your sexual tourism w/ your Canadian friends. 

Exiliado
Exiliado topcommenter

@eddie07  Because the Chinese community in the US did not push for it.


If Chinese exiles wanted to stop trade with communist China all they have to do is get involved in the political process and ask/lobby for an embargo.

That's what we Cubans did.

Some don't like it. See how much we care.  

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