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.