Cuba: Customs on food and medicine lifted after unrest

  • 3 years   ago
Cuba: Customs on food and medicine lifted after unrest
Cuba has temporarily lifted import duties on food, medicine and other essentials following recent unrest.
As of next Monday, there will be no limit on such goods brought in by travellers until the end of the year.
Thousands took to the streets on Sunday in protests over food and medicine shortages, price increases and the government's handling of Covid-19.
One demand they had was for people arriving in Cuba to bring in supplies without paying customs duties.
Dozens have been arrested nationwide since the unrest began on Sunday. Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that one man had died.
Unauthorised demonstrations are illegal in the country, and anti-government protests are rare.
A 'necessary' decision
Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz announced the change on Wednesday at a meeting broadcast on state television.
"It was a demand made by many travellers and it was necessary to take this decision," the prime minister said. The government "will assess things" after 31 December, he added.
Currently travellers to Cuba can bring up to 10kg of medicine into the country tax-free. However, they must pay customs duties on the limited amount of food and personal hygiene supplies they are allowed to bring in.
It is unclear the effect such a customs change will have. Few people are travelling to Cuba currently amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"No, we don't want crumbs. We want freedom," government critic and journalist Yoani Sanchez tweeted shortly after the announcement. "Blood wasn't spilled on Cuban streets in order to import a few extra suitcases."

Source: BBC