HAVANA TIMES — In any healthy society, the government serves the needs of its people and every one of its policies needs to be justified as a means to bring it about. Obviously, no policy will win unanimous popular support, which is just an artificial goal in totalitarian regimes where unanimity is a value worth flaunting.
In Cuba, there are many policies that are hard to justify and poorly accepted by a people who are defenseless without any control mechanism and have censorship up to their teeth. Even so, Raul’s government, just like Fidel’s before him, has a passion for justifying defeats and turning resounding failures into victories in ink and on paper, and as a result, a lot of the time, these policies are wrapped up in false discourse but are coherent enough.
Low salaries… worker inefficiency.
The abusive telecommunications monopoly… a means of financing “free” education and healthcare.
Then, there is what they call the “Blockade” which serves as an excuse to why there isn’t any “made in China” aspirin or why a pound of pork costs 10% of a worker’s average monthly income.
Any excuse sticks well in the new Cuban’s mind, conditioned to take whatever comes to the minds of the comrades at the Communist Party Central Committee as Divine Dogma.
You can see a good example of the Revolution’s wrinkled face in custom regulations. The hard-working and creative Department of National Propaganda has never been able to explain why there are so many restrictions in place to stop Cubans from being able to import things at least via the extremely expensive and inefficient channel of “mules”, the only chance they have up against the state’s monopoly of foreign trade.
Stopping imports has a direct effect on chronic shortages, on the extremely slow process of technology modernization, on prices, on the absence of a wholesale market that could supply stifled private businesses. It has a very important direct and cumulative effect on demoralization and legal perversions, whether you call it corruption or “trying to get by”, which most Cubans dabbles in with the greatest ease in the world, as they have no other choice.
In slowing down the free flow of goods, the government seems to only be looking for control and subjugation, putting the brakes on individual progress and keeping the population sunk in poverty and dependent on the state at any cost.
Custom regulations are the best display of what the Castro brothers’ government really is.
The following are statements I’ve taken from an article published on the government’s digital website Cubadebate (which only a small minority of Cubans manage to read) “Cuban Customs responds to queries about Postal Deliveries, Courier Services and Cargo Delivery Services”, in which no Customs official responded to the queries put forward by the Cuban people. Unable to give explanations or justifications, they ignore us, they can after all.
(I have only copied them partially because of space).
- When returning from Venezuela, I sent a package and when I went to pick it up in Cuba, many objects were missing. It was Cuban Customs who gave me the package, so in my understanding the loss of my belongings is their responsibility. And what good does filing a complaint do?
- I had 6 Russian transistors confiscated that I had been sent to repair my VEF-206 radio. According to them, they were “Commercial” in nature, so I could only import two. Why do I want two if the radio needs 6 to be fixed?
- I was sent a package from Germany with clothes for my little girl, sweets, coloring pencils and a kite. When I went to the post office, I was told I needed to pay 60 CUC (similar in USD) because it weighed nearly 5KG, so I had to leave it there, the things inside the package weren’t even worth that much.
- I was sent a package from France with school materials, but inside, as a nice gesture, I was also sent two bracelets for my girls and some typical sweets and cakes from the region. As a result, I was told that I would need to pay 54 CUC for those “details” as the package almost weighed 4 kg.
- I, personally, have decided not to send even an aspirin to Cuba, there are so many obstacles, delays, outrages, losses, payments and going to and fro that the family has to do in order to get a package that is sent to them, that it ends up costing more than the goods bought in the source country.
- I sent a package to my family of 5 kg of sanitary towels and they were charged 70 CUC which I had to pay too.
- When you send over 1.5 kg to the recipient, you have to pay for this package in hard currency, in a country where workers are paid in CUP (Cuban pesos) and where everyone knows that paying duties to get this package would mean a lot more than a worker’s wages.
- I was sent a package from Switzerland for my little girl who was 3 months old and they were charging me 120 CUC to take it!!!!! It had cardigans, baby tights, onesies, headbands, nylon nappies, some vitamins, T-shirts that WERE ALL FOR A BABY!!!!!, and I missed out on it.
- My mother was sent a second-hand Tablet so she can do crosswords, play memory games and use other applications for leisure; Customs wanted her to pay 120 CUC to get the Tablet… better for my old lady to still be doing Bohemia crosswords…
- I was sent five miscellaneous packages, all of them met weight requirements so I couldn’t be charged anything other than transportation costs to deliver it to my home, but ONE of these packages had a pair of scissors to cut paper, a bottle of sun cream, normal pliers and a set of customized screwdrivers, two of which had interchangeable heads. One of these screwdrivers had a LED. It took a month longer to arrive than the others, even though it had entered the country with the others and it came with the label “Machine Tool Parts” demanding 75 CUC payment!