Posted on Saturday, 01.09.10
BEST OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
Cuba's `industry of robbery'
Below is a post by Yoani Sánchez on her Generation Y blog,
Lacking any protection, Cubans enter the General Customs of the Republic
where they pay the price of return.
A chalk mark on the suitcase signals who must pass through the
scaffold-of-valuation and the institutional assault-by-taxation on
certain goods. Curiously, the airport employees have a keen nose for
detecting returning nationals because they know they come bearing
various and incredible objects.
Outside, in the waiting room, families dream of embracing their emigrés
and fantasize about the possible gifts. Meanwhile, they weigh the
passenger's luggage and show the heavy toll demanded to settle up.
One might come to think that in a country where so many products and
resources are lacking, flexibility about importing them — on a personal
scale — should characterize the customs process: but that's not the
case. Rather, we live at the other extreme, with a strict, “List of
internal valuation'' that forces repayment for the contents of the bags,
whether it is soap, a tin of sardines or a laptop.
Everything is complicated when the excited visitor thinks to bring the
relatives a household appliance or a digital camera. If he wishes to
bring in these modernities, he must empty his wallet of an amount that
runs from 10 to 80 convertible pesos. It comes to be like a ransom,
given to the “kidnappers'' of the foreigner so that the equipment can
reach the hands of its recipients.
Like an industry of robbery, Cuban customs expands, daily, the numbers
confiscated, while adding thousands of dollars to the cash box through
the concept of taxes.
Their huge storerooms are filled with hair dryers, Play Stations,
electric ovens and computers brought by travelers. The destination of
these goods is never explained, but we all know they take the Olive
Green Road of so very much else.
The island would appear, if we are guided by the restrictions on entry,
to be at the point of drowning under the pounds of abundance and
prosperity. But we all know that its forty-three thousand square miles
are on the verge of floating away, from the lightness that results from
lack of productivity and scarcity.
Cuba's `industry of robbery' – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com (9 January