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Condones por la Libreta

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Consumption & material culture, Gender & sexuality Add comments

© Gisela Roeder

This picture of a store advertising poster for (Cuban-made?) condoms is Gisela Roeder’s first contribution to EthnoCuba, and hopefully not the last. It was taken at a peso pharmacy in Caimito, a municipality in Havana Province (soon to be a municipality in the new Artemisa province), this past July, 2010.

Slogan translation: DESEA (presumably the brand name: Desire). “A Job Well Done. You Have the Instruments.”

Productos Controlados are those sold by the libreta. I wonder how many condoms per person could one buy (how many times the government considers the normal rate of sex intercourse per week). I suppose those who do not use them can still collect them and trade them for cigarettes or yogourt.

Recently, the international press carried an article about Cubans’ creative condom usage: Condoms are used for everything except for sex. Here’s a link to a Global Post article which includes interesting images.

Commercial advertisements of this sort in peso stores are extremely unusual, particularly because rather than just inform on the quality of the promoted product, it seeks to lure consumers to use it through innuendo and evocative images- a “no-no” in socialist advertising (See article in Harvard’s Revista on the topic). Although in this case the choice of imagery is strange, what’s up with those outfits??

In the the mid-1990s, the famous timba band La Charanga Habanera, also tried to promote this not-very-popular product, upon government request. The song  “Mi Amor, Usa Condon” (which they mocked in their album cover by appearing themselves with condoms over their heads) was part of their “suspension concert” of 1997, in Havana’s Malecon. After this, they were banned from the media for half a year due to their allegedly lewd movements and disrespectful words.

4 Responses to “Condones por la Libreta”

  1. Tweets that mention Ethno Cuba » Blog Archive » Condones por la Libreta -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Los8Secretos, Cuba Blogs. Cuba Blogs said: Condones por la Libreta: © Gisela Roeder This picture of a store advertising poster for… http://goo.gl/fb/kqEcc #cuba […]

  2. la tuñera Says:

    I can guarantee you that the products which are controlled in this picture are not the condoms, but probably whatever was on the shelf below the poster. Condoms are widely available and supercheap, like two cents of a Cuban pesos each, and available in pharmacies, restaurants, bars and recreational places. I don’t know how much they really cause, because it never was important as they were so cheap (even on a Cuban salary), unlike in the US! Condoms are so easily accessed, cheap and available that they are used for many other purposes such as balloons for a children’s birthday party, or to sneak alcohol into a concert or dance club. Because they are so omnipresent , the idea of people trading condoms for cigarettes or yogurt is ridiculous-you would have to have a wheelbarrow of condoms to equal a couple of cigarettes and I doubt the person with the cigarettes would be interested in the exchange.:)

    I translated the text of this poster differently. As I am unaware of a brand of condoms called “DESEA” I read the post as follows “she wants/desires a job well done: you have the instruments”. The poster is marketing condoms to men who the poster implies have the tools necessary to please the woman (a penis and a condom). These sort of posters are very common in Cuba, they’re not advertisements, but public health communications aimed at promoting safer sex and these sorts of public health posters are super common in Cuban pharmacies.

    The controlled products in the pharmacies are usually things like narcotics (not condoms). Ironically enough one product that is controlled and distributed through the bodega are sanitary napkins, and yes there’s much complaining about a standardized calculation determining how many sanitary napkins I get each month.

    As for what’s up with those outfits… I’m no help there!

  3. ariana Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this corrective and show nicely the misunderstandings in which outside viewers incur.

  4. Noelle Schuchard Says:

    the international press carried an article about Cubans’ creative condom??

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