Cuban-American professor and activist Carlos Lazo, coordinator of the organization Puentes de Amor, requested in a letter to the Cuban government a new extension to the tariff exemption for importing food and medicines to Cuba, in force since July 2021.
The request, made by this Colectivo to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), demands that the law passed last year, which is due to expire this December, should be extended, given that since its adoption, Cuban families residing on the island and abroad have benefited from it.
This regulation for the unrestricted, non-commercial import of essential goods has previously been extended until 31 December 2022. Accordingly, Lazo submitted a letter to Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, director of the General Directorate of Consular Affairs and Cubans Residing Abroad from Minrex
“Today, while expressing the opinions of many Cubans living abroad, we demand the Cuban government to extend this provision beyond 31 December 2022 and as long as the emergency conditions that prompted the implementation of this measure persist,” expressed the leader of the non-governmental organization in the request.
Since its implementation, Cubans and citizens of other countries visiting or returning to Cuba can now bring into the island larger quantities of food, medicines and hygiene kits. This has come as a relief to Cuban families who are suffering from the impact of the economic crisis and the scarcity of essential goods and services in the country.
Lazo highlights that a new extension would strengthen the links between the nation and Cubans living abroad, and would allow “in these times of pandemic and blockade to continue building the bridges of love between the nation and its emigrants”.
What is the Origin of the Customs Extension?
The customs waiver for food and medicine imports was adopted by the island’s government on 16 July 2021 to ease the already difficult situation in the country. Back then, the Ministry of Finance and Prices released the Resolution 309 which was published in the Official Gazette No. 62, (Extraordinary). This resolution entailed the easing of customs provisions applicable until 31 December of that year.
A first extension was only announced a few days before the expiry of the current one, which extended the application of the rule until 30 June 2022. This regulation was ratified in mid-May as the conditions that prompted its initial implementation in 2021 persisted.
What Does Puentes de Amor Do?
At the head of Puentes de Amor, Professor Carlos Lazo has spoken out against the sanctions imposed by the White House on Cuba, which directly affect the quality of life of Cuban families. Since it was founded, Puentes de Amor has deployed several initiatives throughout the world, notably in the United States, aimed at improving relations with the island.
Puentes de Amor has already collected food and medicine donations which are in short supply in Cuba. The collective has also called for a better dialogue between the government and Cuban emigrants.
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