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    Antonio Castro’s Fiancee, Manager of Desigual – How a Boutique Works in Cuba

    Antonio Castro’s Fiancee, Manager of Desigual: How a Boutique Works in
    Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida

    Juan Juan Almeida, 12 May 2016 — The most expensive labels in Cuba are
    on the verge of the abyss. Mango, Gas, Zara, Paul & Shark, Adidas,
    Lacoste, Desigual and a few others present their calling cards to the
    Cuban government while naïve foreign businessmen in the high-end textile
    industry look on, allowing themselves to be seduced. The stores pretend
    to be profitable but it is all an illusion. They are nothing more than a
    houses of cards, fragile and in danger of collapse.

    Commercial concessions like these are doled out on the basis of their
    usefulness through politically connected friends and with people who,
    directly or indirectly, wield authority, hold decision making power or
    have influence.

    One very recent example happens to be talk of the town: Patricia Nuñez,
    an anchor on the educational channel and the current fiancée of Antonio
    Castro Soto del Valle, son of Fidel Castro. She recently made her debut
    as manager of a new Desigual store in the shopping mall of the Hotel
    Comodoro in Miramar.
    Fashion is the new obsession among Cuba’s elite. But not even close ties
    to Cuba’s monarchs are enough to improve the bottom line of these luxury
    clothing brands. Having a presence in Cuba can certainly be an added
    plus, albeit a costly one. Economically speaking, the thrill of being on
    the island mainly results in huge and continuous losses.
    The government’s unpaid bills are piling up in the accounting books of
    these retail companies. But that is not the main reason these stores are
    suffering. It is due to their employees who — with a work ethic that
    includes criminality (specifically, handling stolen goods) — make steady
    money tax-free while dealing a body blow to their own employers.

    Another issue is that, generally speaking, what is being sold in stores
    like those in the Hotel Comodoro are knock-offs imported by merchants
    who circumvent Cuban custom regulations, or who sell merchandise
    produced clandestinely by seamstresses — with or without self-employment
    licenses — who attach fake labels made by local artisans.

    These include blouses, skirts, shirts, leggings and pants. Anything that
    can be purchased for a price of between five to seven convertible pesos
    is sold as “the real thing” at one-hundred times the original price. As
    a result, the legitimate stores lose while these shopkeepers win.
    It is for this reason that Cuba’s well-to-do have not been seduced into
    buying this stuff. They have no interest in the Hotel Comodoro shopping
    mall.

    What interests them are places like New York’s Fifth Avenue, London’s
    Bond Street, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Tverskaya Street in Moscow,
    Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, Wangfujing in Beijing, Avenue Montaigne in
    Paris, Via Monte Napoleone in Milán, P.C Hooftstraat in Amsterdam and
    Madrid’s Serrano Street.

    Why? Because for them, as well as for those who talk so much about
    sacrifice and revolution, the shopping experience at these places far
    exceeds the average earthling’s retail expectations, whether they live
    inside or outside of Cuba.

    Source: Antonio Castro’s Fiancee, Manager of Desigual: How a Boutique
    Works in Cuba / Juan Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/antonio-castros-fiancee-manager-of-desigual-how-a-boutique-works-in-cuba-juan-juan-almeida/

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