Covid-19 makes personalized face masks fashionable in the Caribbean


[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Carmen Carrasco (La Vanguardia) says, “The trend in countries like Panama is that facemasks should follow the Caribbean style of dressing—with pleasant tropical colors—and creativity abounds.”

In bad weather, a beautiful facemask [barbijo].

The mask is the new face of a society that covers itself, not from the other, but from the invisible enemy that can lead to death.

On social networks, what is viral are the different tutorials that teach you the ways in which you can create a handmade mask, at a low cost, with what you have at home: an old T-shirt, a piece of cloth or a handkerchief, thread, needle and scissors. The big companies in the fashion industry have searched for a way out to overcome the economic crisis they are facing, with the creation of facemasks. The color of the season is white, and summer advertising is promoting collections aimed at staying at home.


Going viral on social networks are the different tutorials that teach you the ways in which you can create a handmade mask, at a low cost, with what you have at home: an old T-shirt, a piece of cloth, or a handkerchief, thread, needle, and scissors.

In Panama, a country of more than 4 million inhabitants, who have been subjected to severe confinement measures, such as segregating women and men—with two hours for going outdoors three times a week—is no exception.

The facemask, today in dire need, is the first line of combat, in addition to sanitizing gel, to minimize the risk of contagion from Covid-19.

There are sectors—the most unprotected, informal workers—who, faced by the health crisis, have been left out in the open, they violate confinement and, without any type of protection, close off the streets with their neighbors, because they affirm that they have not benefited from the voucher and/or food packages promised by the Panamanian Government.


For Panamanian politician Ramiro Vásquez, this is because “we are a tropical-Caribbean society. We are not Asians, nor Anglo-Saxons, let alone Teutons. Our social behavior reflects cultural, psychological, and tradition themes. It also expresses how we see the authority of the State in its application of social discipline. How we see the health area, beyond the epidemiologist sector, in its plans against the pandemic. We are what we are and we act on that basis.”

In parallel, the Government, with the human resources it has available, tries to reach this poverty line.

With the heat, which can reach 35 degrees, and with a humidity of 95%, the use of the mask is usually uncomfortable at times when sweat consumes you, however, as many women as men bear it in silence.

Today, creativity is overflowing, in the short time authorized to leave home, you will find various mask designs in supermarkets, in the pharmacy, on the streets, ranging from a friendly dog (so it is presumed that the wearer must have one in their home) to others with an insinuating kiss or the Panamanian flag. The most daring decorate it with the shape of the coronavirus and the words: “It won’t pass.” Meanwhile, the most sophisticated ones are made of mola [a traditional Kuna textile design].

Translation of excerpts by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see

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