Travelers arriving in Cuba from next Monday will be able to bring food, hygiene products and medicines into the country with no weight limit and without paying customs duties until December 31, the Prime Minister announced on Wednesday. Cuban Manuel Marrero. The measure was passed after Cuba saw the biggest protests in decades last Sunday. Protesters expressed their displeasure with the Government for the shortage of basic commodities and medicines, for the power cuts and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demands of the crisis were mixed with slogans denouncing the lack of freedoms on the island.
During a meeting broadcast on Cuban television, which was also attended by the president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and several ministers, including the Minister of the Economy, Alejandro Gil, Prime Minister Marrero assured that this decision responds to “A request formulated by many travelers. ”, And that it was“ necessary ”to apply it. The Cuban government has said it will assess a possible extension of the tariff suspension at the end of this year.
Travelers entering Cuba can now bring up to 10 kilograms of medication without paying taxes. However, even the limited amount of food and personal hygiene items that they are allowed to take with them are subject to tariffs.
Due to travel restrictions due to the covid-19 pandemic, the number of people arriving in Cuba has dropped significantly over the past year, so the impact of the measure will be limited. “No, we don’t want crumbs. We want freedom ”, reacted the famous blogger and Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez after the announcement of the authorities. “The blood was not spilled in the Cuban streets to be able to import a few more suitcases,” he added in a tweet.
Sánchez thus evokes the death of a protester on Tuesday and also the arrest of more than a hundred people, during unusual demonstrations on the Caribbean island.
At the same time, the Cuban authorities restored Internet access on Wednesday evening, according to the France Presse agency. The suspension of network access had helped cool the protests that erupted on Sunday, in which social media played a key role.
Hundreds of Cubans began demonstrating on Sunday in the towns of San Antonio de los Baños, near Havana, and Palma Soriano, in Santiago, a spark that then spread across the country. In principle, it was to protest against the long power cuts and to demand vaccination against covid-19. Soon after, the demands turned into cries of “freedom” and demands for political change.
The protest reached Facebook and was broadcast live, with proclamations as unusual as “down with dictatorship” or “we are not afraid of communism”. In various places, such as Cárdenas in the west of the island, state stores were looted and police cars were attacked.
The protests were harshly suppressed by the government, which called on revolutionaries to fight street protests. Cuban authorities confirmed on Tuesday through the Cuban News Agency (ACN) that a protester, a 36-year-old man, had died in clashes with security forces in a neighborhood in Havana. A Spanish photographer for the Associated Press (AP) agency, Ramón Espinosa, was assaulted by law enforcement agents.
The covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the island’s economy, especially in one of the sectors that feeds many Cubans: tourism. The decline in currencies that this represents was aggravated by a poor harvest of sugar cane, another source of income for the Cuban state. This reduction in resources has led to a reduction in imports of essential products by the island authorities, which has exacerbated the shortage.