Cuba to Stop Taxing Calls to USA

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government announced today that it will repeal a law passed under former President Fidel Castro in 2000 that imposed a 10 percent tax on every phone call made between the island and the United States, reported DPA news.

“This will reduce the amount paid for international calls between the US and Cuba,” reads a statement from Cuba’s Council of State, without specifying when the regulations will take effect.

The measure repeals an executive order issued under Fidel Castro 12 years ago after the US Congress authorized the use of previously frozen funds of the island to compensate the victims of two airplanes were shot down in 1996 by Cuban forces after anti-Castro exiles had piloted them into the country’s airspace.

The tax was therefore “a legitimate response to the theft of funds owed to our country by American telecommunications companies,” added today’s announcement from Havana.

The United States government has imposed a harsh economic embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years owing to an ideological dispute between the two countries.

The measure announced today seeks to “facilitate” the increase in international telephone calls to and from Cuba and “communication between the Cuban population and its emigrant community,” the statement also said.

About two million Cubans live outside of the island, with an estimated 85 percent of them residing in the US, particularly in Florida, which has a large community of exiled anti-Castro politicians.

Most Cubans have acquaintances or relatives in the United States, though free Internet phone services such as Skype are blocked on the island.

Cuba has one of the lowest levels of Internet access in the world, the island’s international telephone rates are significantly higher than in other countries.

Calls from Cuba to the US are charged at $1.40 per minute in the case of individuals and $2.45 per minute for companies. For the rest of the world corporate rates range between $3.40 and $ 5.85 per minute, according to current information from the state-run telephone company ETECSA.

4 thoughts on “Cuba to Stop Taxing Calls to USA

  • Luis, I don’t think so. Were it simply based on the failed economic state of Cuban socialism, then why change the policy now when Cuba needs the money more than ever. No, I believe policies such as this serve to punish Cuban emigres who dare to have relationships with their families still in Cuba. There is a “anti-gusano” mindset that exists in Cuba. The Castros have shown time and again that they hate the emigrant community and yet are forced to acknowledge that they want their money. Recent emigration changes along with this change in telephone surcharges simply reveal past emnities. By their own words, the hope is that by eliminating the 10% tax, calls from the US will increase. Keep in mind, reducing calls to $1.40 a minute, the remaining ETECSA surcharge is still the highest in the region. Similar calls from the US to Mexico using the AT&T costs less than 12 cents a minute! The difference between the two calls is Cuban surcharge. Cuban enterprises use the embargo as the excuse. Simple greed however is the real culprit.

  • You’re inverting the whole logic. Exactly because of the embargo, Cuban enterprises are forced to work around every possible way to gain cash flow from abroad.

  • I am writing this comment from my hotel room in Mexico. Next to the phone on the desk in my room is an advertisement from what appears to be a Mexican long distance calling company. In the advertisement, there is a list of prices for calls made from Mexico to US/Canada-3 pesos/minute (about 25 cents), Europe-4 pesos/minute (32 cents) and the rest of Latin America/Caribbean – 3 pesos. There is an asterisk next to Latin American/Caribbean. At the bottom of the page, in small letters, following the asterisk it says: Calls to Cuba subject to availability. Costs vary between 12-15 pesos (between $1.00 and $1.25). I called the company to ask why the huge difference. I was told that it is because of the additional costs that the Cuban telephone company charges to accept and connect international calls. Mexico has no embargo against Cuba, yet ETECSA sees fit to charge callers from Mexico a huge surcharge. Once again, the embargo is a convenient excuse by the Castros to do harm to the Cuban people.

  • “The tax was therefore “a legitimate response to the theft of funds owed to our country by American telecommunications companies,” added today’s announcement from Havana.”

    This tax is mostly being paid by the Cuban people and their relatives abroad! How cynical for the Cuban “government” to charge these outrageous sums for phone call and then have the face to make such a statement! The thieves are the Castro family oligarchy and their henchmen who live in total luxury while the everyday Cuban starves and lives like pauper even though they may be a professional!

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