Voulez-vous aller au Cuba, eh?

I read the following from The Canadian Press in my news feeds this morning and didnt think much of it:

Montreal company offers $300 rebate for bringing goods into Cuba Canadian Press

MONTREAL (CP) – A Quebec travel agency is offering clients a $300 discount on its travel packages to Cuba in exchange for taking a suitcase full of personal items into the country.

The company says it is simply acting as a middleman for expatriate Cubans wishing to send hard-to-find everyday items to Cuba.

Montreal-based Antillas Express offers clients a rebate if they take a suitcase past Cuban customs.

A spokesperson who did not want to be identified said the practice is legal and that the company assumes full responsibility for what’s inside the luggage.

“We check all the merchandise because it’s in our interests that it reaches its destination,” the spokesperson told The Canadian Press. “It’s not in our interest that the merchandise be confiscated at the Cuban border.”

She said relatives often use the service to send such items as Aspirin, clothing and pens to family members back home.

Company representatives pick up the suitcase at the airport, and then deliver the items to their intended recipients.

“This way, you can send more (goods to Cuba) and for cheaper prices than (through) the mail,” the spokesperson said.

A U.S. embargo against the Communist island country has long restricted what can be sent there from the United States, and forbids exporting products to Cuba through third countries.

The embargo, which has been in place since 1963, was tightened again in 2004, forcing ex-pats to find new ways for sending gifts back home.

The evil US embargo is preventing Cuban families – from Canada no less! – from sending goods and necessities to those on the island so they must resort to using Canadian tourists as mules. Damned evil, immoral, inhumane US embargo! Damned Americans! Damned right-wing extremists Miami Cubans!!!!

But wait, there’s much more the article doesnt tell you. Especially the following from this travel website’s forum:

Insanity at Cuban Customs in Havana.

Well, as I told you last week, my best friend (Canadian) and his Cuban
wife flew down to Havana last Sunday night with Cubana from Toronto. I
had asked him to specifically note the procedures with Cuban Customs
upon arrival. He has been in and out of Havana over 50 times, so he is
very experienced with Aduana.

Well it’s NOT a pretty picture. It’s become downright UGLY in fact.

Upon arrival, clearing Immigration and getting your luggage is just the
same as it has always been. However from this point onwards things have
drastically changed.

After getting your baggage, you present yourself to a Customs officer
who visually checks all your luggage. This Aduana person then
arbitrarily decides whether you appear to have “lots” of luggage or not.
And arriving passengers are arbitrarily either allowed to pass, or sent
to a set of scales to have their luggage weighed. My friend was waved
aside to be weighed, as was his wife, even though both were presenting
themselves separately.

Now here’s where it gets bloody stupid. They were both WITHIN the
allowed weight limits on their Cubana flight, which as flight only
tickets were for 64 kilos each in luggage. They were NOT at this maximum
weight. They also had an NJT box.

The NJT box was allowed to pass without question, however they were each
weighed and absolutely everything is weighed that a single passenger
has. Both their checked luggage AND their carry-on luggage (combined).

The NEW RULES are that you are now allowed ONLY 30 kilos of luggage per
person regardless of what the items are, and you are CHARGED a WHOPPING
10 CUC PER KILO for every KILO that you are over the 30 kilo limit. This
INCLUDES all personal items, camera equipment, dive equipment, sports
equipment, bicycles or ANYTHING else that a tourist might have with
them. There are NO exceptions to this.

My friends were a total of 33 kilos over the 30 kilo limit and were
charged 330 CUC ($435 CDN) to bring their luggage into Cuba. They asked
what their choices were and were told that they either pay or go into
the Aduana secondary inspection area and abandon whatever it takes to
get their weight down to 30 kilos each. They chose to pay, but were NOT
happy with that.

They both told me that there was LOTS of screaming, yelling and very
angry people at the Havana airport, including business people who had
their laptops, business papers etc., weighed with their luggage and
charged accordingly.

IMHO this is going to have serious consequences for tourism, especially
for people like me who travel with a laptop and extensive camera
equipment which alone weighs nearly 15 kilos. I can’t imagine how this
will affect sport scuba diving in Cuba. Nobody in their right mind will
pay to bring personal diving or other sports equipment into Cuba at
those prices.

This will seriously make me reconsider Cuba as either a vacation or
photography destination.

Steve_YYZ

You can read the rest of the comments at the forum here.

Hat tip Greg R.

9 thoughts on “Voulez-vous aller au Cuba, eh?”

  1. ***
    “”IMHO this is going to have serious consequences for tourism, especially for people like me who travel with a laptop and extensive camera equipment which alone weighs nearly 15 kilos. I can’t imagine how this will affect sport scuba diving in Cuba. Nobody in their right mind will pay to bring personal diving or other sports equipment into Cuba at those prices.””

    Gee, Am I the only one that don’t feel sorry for this comemierda?

    What the hell do these people think, that Cuba’s a Club Med?

    My response is that if they want to take advantage of “the worker’s paradise” be prepared to take up the a$$….
    ***

  2. Thank you so much for posting a comment on my poem. I hold it in high regard, being that you are a ‘real’ writer, a.k.a you get paid for it.

    Claire

  3. Lo que me jode es que estos desgraciados reconocen la falta de productos y medicamentos basicos en Cuba, y sin embargo siguen besandole el culo a fidel.

  4. maybe the cubans themselves are trying to sabotage the travel industry and the remittances that come in from america in order to cut off communist Cuba’s life blood. plausibe? yes. Likely? probably not.

    one can dream…

  5. Reading this travel forum made me nauseaus. I don’t know if anyone else noticed “Viva el Viajero Independiente” Steve’s photograph smoking a Cuban cigar and wearing the olive green “che and Cuban flag” cap! … and for those of you “Cubaphiles” (out there … here’s Steve’s post about “Mambo Nite”… sorry! deadline to RSVP was on 1/27/07!

    “Ok, it’s coming up February again and for the 3rd year in a row the Toronto (and area) Cubaphiles are going to get together and celebrate our love of Cuba. But we’re doing it a LOT different this time around. Sort of like comparing an AI buffet (last few) with the A-la-Carte dining experience you all prefer.”

    http://debbiesreviews.proboards88.com/index.cgi?board=Cuba&action=display&thread=1168197828

    These so called tourists are by choice guilty of “Cubaphilia” … indeed!!! Exploiters with no concern for the actual victims.

    Thanks for this eye-opening post Val!
    I wish you well 🙂 Melek

    “A child who does not think about what happens around him and is content with living without wondering whether he lives honestly is like a man who lives from a scoundrel’s work and is on the road to being a scoundrel.” ~ Jose Marti

  6. Que rayos se pensaban estas mulas?

    How disgusting, the wimps are crying foul ~ they deserve all they get, and then some.

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