14ymedio, Havana, 22 October 2018 — Correos de Cuba, the Cuban Post Office, has admitted deficiencies in its service to the avalanche of complaints from users in an online forum of the business group. The state agency’s management has responded to the criticism arguing that to solve this situation requires “large investments, which currently neither the Group nor the State can assume.”
After the digital meeting held last Wednesday on the website of the state newspaper Granma, the agency’s Institutional Communications Director, José Manuel Valido Rodríguez, responded to the criticism in an interview in which he recalled that the problems are largely due to “the manual character” of mail operations.
This “causes irregularities directly associated with the quality of services,” the official justified. “This is compounded by the technological obsolescence of computer equipment and inadequacies in the transportation system, especially in the secondary and tertiary distribution lines (from the provincial capitals to the municipal level and from there, to the localities).”
Correos de Cuba — along with the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa), the communal service and passenger transport service — is one of the state companies most harshly criticized by its customers. Delays in shipments, loss of packages and the opening of correspondence are some of the complaints that are heard most frequently against the Group.
In the forum last week, customers complained about the delays in the delivery of the daily press, especially in the municipalities. A problem that officials attributed to the repairs that are being made Villa Clara’s Graphic industry, which has forced the national newspapers Granma, Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), and Trabajadores (Workers) to be printed in Havana, along with the provincial newspapers that are distributed in the central area of the island .
“The Havana print shop has machines that date back to the 80s of the last century, for which spare parts are no longer manufactured,” added Valido Rodríguez. “This whole process has had a negative impact on the distribution of the press in central and western Cuba, due to the delay in the printing process and the extra complexity of transporting the newspapers over much longer distances.”
Correos also acknowledged that in most of the provinces there are “limitations in covering the the mail carrier positions, which generates irregularities in the delivery of the press on a daily basis.” The salary of one of these employees does not exceed the equivalent of 30 CUC per month (roughly $30 US) and involves large distances on foot, which makes it a not very attractive position for many candidates.
Another client questioned the opening of letters or packages, a frequent practice in Cuba, where recipients have become accustomed to receiving envelopes that have clearly been violated or packages that lack part of their contents.
The representatives of the company called “the opening of correspondence and postal packages a violation” and urged complaints about these cases tobe presented at the offices of Canal Rojo (Red Channel), “represented in all the provinces of the country and where the recipient is cited for inspection in the presence of customs agents and the Correos de Cuba.”
“Why, if in the 70’s I sent a letter or package from Esmeralda (in Camagüey) to Havana, and it arrived in a week, now … 40 years later, with internet, web, emails, etc … They told a friend of mine in the Ministry of Communications that a certified letter from Havana to Santiago de Cuba took from 45 days to two months?” questioned another Internet user.
To this the employees responded that “40 years ago there was not the volume of parcels that exists at the moment,” and they also pointed out that “the transportation system did not have more than 20 years of overuse,” which causes constant breakdowns.
Correos de Cuba, which was founded 262 years ago, “maintains connection with the postal operations of 192 nations” and is “composed of 20 companies, and more than 800 service units” in which 10,000 workers are employed, Granma points out. In addition, its offices serve 52% of pensioners in the country and almost all of Cubans receiving social assistance.
In the first eight months of this year, “481 complaints were registered, most of them due to delayed deliveries.” Of these, 370 complaints related to “the press service, 171 of them due to irregular distribution, 113 due to non-delivery of subscriptions to homes and the rest due to delay in arriving at their destinations.”
In recent years and with the increase in the number of Cubans serving medical missions abroad, the postal network has been saturated with packages and correspondence. The tens of thousands of health professionals deployed in more than 60 countries use local companies to send their packages, but once on the island their delivery is the responsibility of Correos de Cuba. The state entity also handled, last year some 30 million dollars in money orders sent from abroad.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.