In the same days that the dismissal of Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Roque was catching the attention of the foreign press and the local rumor mill, Xiomara was worrying about something closer to home. For the past four months, in her town of Pinar del Rio the sanitary pads that women use to mitigate the cycles of the moon haven’t come. She and her daughters cut up a couple of sheets and managed to make some towels, which they washed after using. If the ration market lacks feminine hygiene products, the already small number of towels and pillowcases remaining in Cuban houses would diminish even further. Mother nature does not understand the mechanisms of distribution, and so every twenty-eight days we have damp evidence to put them to the test.
Xiomara recounted, with the shame of having to speak publically about something she would prefer to keep private, that the employees at her company had the same problem. “Because of this we might refuse to go to work,” she told me, and I imagined a “Strike of the Period,” a massive protest marked by the ovulation cycle. However, nothing stops in the province of Pinar del Rio for this “triviality.” The officials continue to speak of “recovering from the hurricanes” and the newspapers—which unfortunately cannot be used as sanitary pads—mention exceeding the goals of the potato harvest. The drama was hidden in the bathrooms and manifested itself in two new wrinkles on the foreheads of some females.
There are those who think that the dismissal of several officials, or the merger of two ministries, are the real steps on the road to change. I feel, however, that the triggering spark of the transformations could be, simply, a group of women tired of washing out, every month, the cloths used during their menstrual cycles.