A Good Alternative for Cuban Mail

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES — Recently, one of my Facebook friends was complaining on-line about the inconveniences that a US postal service had caused him. The addressee was a person this agency had already made deliveries to and claimed not to be able to find them this last time around.

Complaining about the poor quality of nearly all services is almost a constant in Cuba (I say “almost” because some capitalist entities still manage to save us from this predicament from time to time).

Correos de Cuba, the island’s postal service, is often the target of criticisms over the loss of packages, delivery delays and other negligent practices. Correos de Cuba, however, is also the only option we poor Cubans have, for the much faster and allegedly more effective DHL charges an arm and a leg, and in hard currency.

Recently – before my friends Facebook post – I urgently needed to send a package to Pinar del Rio and didn’t have anyone who could take it there. I had no choice but to send it by mail, so I headed to the post office.

After consulting with one of the employees at the post office located at Vedado’s FOCSA building, where I was treated with the utmost kindness by all employees, I found out I had very few options: I could send the packaged via certified mail and wait a month for it to arrive, or send it by regular mail and wait only a week. According to the employee, there was no guarantee it would arrive at its destination that way.

A third option came up unexpectedly. One of the employees suggested I sent it via the Astro bus terminal. I recalled I had seen people do this many times before and that it was a fairly effective option these days.

A small gift for the driver and someone to pick it up in Pinar del Rio and problem solved. This is a fairly unorthodox and possibly illegal solution, but it works – at the very least, it works better than the institution responsible for these procedures. Crazy, but true.