Filling Stores with Bolivian Clothing / Juan Juan Almeida
Posted on June 29, 2013
No doubt you heard that last week, on June 13 and 14, representatives
from Cuba and Bolivia met in Havana to take part in their countries’
first business forum and first round of negotiations to explore various
possibilities for economic exchange and for strengthening bilateral
It is a bad omen, I tell you, that such an important meeting took place
in the Hotel Nacional, in the Tanganana Room to be exact, which
coincidentally is named after the cellar that forms part of the aged
facility’s foundation and where, according to legend, Franciscan monks
hid valuable treasure.
The treasure is no longer there, only vestiges of the old legend remain
and any business agreement between Cuba and Bolivia will last exactly as
long as a Palestinian peace plan: one round.
But that is my very skeptical opinion. According to official sources,
this transcendental encounter was led by important officials from both
countries, who share a common enemy. The United States, Chile and the
hole in the ozone layer would seem to be disconnected strands but they
carry a direct message and a clear meaning. The meeting was more a
political consultation than a business gathering.
Teresa Morales, the Minister of Economic Development, led the delegation
from the South American country. You might remember her name from the
very descriptive headlines of well-documented articles that appeared not
long ago about the hundreds of demonstrators in the Altos district
demanding her resignation for — and I quote — ”her inability to resolve
the problem of access to staple foods and for exacerbating the shortage
of basic goods and services.”
Judging from all the signs and signals, cooperation between the future
partners promises to be unruly and counter-productive, which is typical
of fraternal governments which ignore laws and citizen demands.
Cuba was represented by Estrella Madrigal, a fat, bland mid-level
director with limited decision-making authority. She, like many,
augments her diet with unproductive trips, presents from businesspeople
and some small change here and there.
Other than a speech limited to the matter at hand — joint economic
ventures — she spent all her time drinking mojitos, eating canapés and
urging the participants to take advantage of the enormous possibilities
offered by membership in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our
America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
(CELAC). She expressed her support for SUCRE (Unified System for
Regional Compensation), a proposed common currency to be used for all
joint operations. In addition to speaking about investments, she
referred to the siphoning off of goods on consignment.
With corrosive cleverness Cuba offered the Andeans one-of-a-kind,
exclusive access to the thousands of empty shelves in its monolithic
chain of stores so that they might sell Bolivian-made textile products,
footwear and cosmetics. The risk would be all theirs; nothing would be
paid for in advance.
The accord has stimulated the sparkling wisdom of Cuba’s people. Some
have even dared predict, with some degree of fear, that Bolivia’s
traditional multi-colored woolen shawl — the aguayo — will be become by
decree the national attire. No matter what happens, it all depends on
who pays more.
26 June 2013
Source: “Filling Stores with Bolivian Clothing / Juan Juan Almeida |
Translating Cuba” –