14ymedio, Havana, 22 April 2021 – Juaquina Nieves Muiño does not know if customs or the postal service was responsible but the package she sent a month ago from the Canary Islands in Spain to San Luis in Santiago de Cuba province arrived at its destination full of rocks and bricks rather than its original contents.
“When my daughter picked it up at the post office in San Luis, she was not happy about how it arrived. Almost everything inside had been stolen.” she wrote on Facebook. Nieves Muiño regretted that all the effort she had spent to help her family back on the island had been wasted. She is confident the shipment arrived intact by plane and blames Havana for the robbery.
“I am not one to post things online but I see this as fraud. They’ve always stolen things but now they’re throwing rocks inside. I will not be silenced until they explain to me and to everyone affected by this just what happened,” says Nieves Muiño, whose daughter has filed a complaint with the postal services, Correos de Cuba.
Last week the government passed a law that provides “compensation for loss, disruption or theft of postal deliveries provided it can be demonstrated that postal workers are responsible for such incidents. According to the new regulation, shipments from overseas are the responsibility of Correos de Cuba “from the time they enter the country for delivery or are in transit at one of its postal facilities.”
Rates of compensation in such cases is set at 960 pesos for a package sent from abroad, plus 540 pesos per kilo, plus the delivery or pickup fee.
In December, Cubadebate published an article defending Correos de Cuba, saying it was the victim of “a media campaign orchestrated and financed by the United States against the Cuban government and its institutions.”
The agency objected to accusations on social media that its workers allegedly benefitted from access to packages that were sent from overseas.
The company responded, saying these complaints do not reflect “the reality or the comments made by the vast majority of customers. To say that those of us who work at Correos de Cuba are thieves, criminals and opportunists is totally unfair and untrue.”
The company referred to the thirty-two claims it received in 2020 for theft and change of content of some packaged shipments, pointing out that this represented “0.03% of the hundreds of tons and millions of shipments received, processed, transported and delivered.”
Another business that has been the object of similar complaints is Aerovaradero, a subsidiary of Cuban Civil Aviation, which specializes in domestic and international cargo transport. Several of its workers were arrested in December for alleged theft and misappropriation of property. According to authorities, the arrests resulted from complaints by passengers and other state-owned companies that had been impacted. Among the items stolen were eight air conditioning splits as well as televisions, computers, minibars, musical equipment and high-performance athletic shoes.
Both Correos de Cuba and Aeroveradero have been the subjects of intense criticism for delays of as long as eight months involving delivery of parcels from overseas. Carlos Jesús Asencio Valerino, head of the postal agency, said the facility that processes packages was operating twelve hours a day and was handling between fourteen to sixteen tons in a single day.
In addition to headaches such as these, there is the 95-peso cost of picking up a package at a post office, or 100 pesos for those who choose home delivery. Customs charges for postal and courier shipments have also shot up, from 10 pesos prior to January 1st to 50 pesos for packages under 1.5 kilograms.
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