Custom Filters / Laritza Diversent

Cubans who opine publicly regarding the Government, are condemned to suffer confiscation. The Customs Office for Post and Shipments (APE), an entity which is part of the General Customs Office of the Republic (AGR), has a filter for seizure for shipments abroad, applicable to dissidents.

Within the last 2 months, this agency has confiscated 2 shipments that had been sent to me from the United States. I was advised on the 13th of August about the most recent, via the “Resolution of Forfeiture #1209” dated the 29th of July, 2010, and an Act of Forfeiture and Notification, both documents signed by Danny Samada Rivero, Inspector of Customs Controls.

Had this occurred once, one could consider it an issue of chance. A second occurrence would be a purposeful act of viciousness; but if other people with the same uneasiness regarding the political situation suffered the same indignities, then it’s a matter of a strategy of the State. A subtle form of punishing those who dare question the status quo of the system.

I have no doubts, this administrative act has a political underpinning. Its not a coincidence that it applies since various months to the forfeiture of shipments from abroad to various dissidents against the Government, including Yoani Sanchez, the author of the “Generation Y” blog.

As per Samada Rivero, the contents of the package were contrary to the general interests of the nation. He used Resolution #5-96, from the Manager of AGR, as the basis for the forfeiture. The first was applied by the resolution of forfeiture no. 978, on 8 June. On that occasion Raimundo Pérez García, Inspector Control Customs seized the shipment arguing the same reason and legal basis.

Resolution No. 5 of the AGR, existing since 1996, allows the application within the national territory, of the International Convention on the Suppression of the circulation and traffic in obscene publications.

The rule prohibits the importation by shipments, of “any object whose content is considered contrary to morals and good customs or which go against the “general interest of the nation”. In addition, the seized products are to be delivered to the corresponding body of the Ministry of the Interior.

Under both resolutions customs Control Inspector, Samada Rivero and Pérez García, failed to explain in what way the imported articles affected the general interests of the nation. Most of the products were for personal hygiene, health and for use in an office, of general, every-day use for a household. The same products are for sale in State shops and foreign currency stores, within the national territory.

At the end of July, I lodged an appeal to the head of the customs, requesting cancellation of the first resolution of confiscation. On August 17, I was notified of the resolution of Appeal No. 231 of 2010, denying my claim.

The officer, Raúl Gómez Badía, the ultimate authority of the organ of the State in question, considered the measure applied by the customs inspector, Raimundo García Pérez, as being correct. That decision exhausted the administrative process open to appeal the decision; the next recourse is the judicial path in open court. My next step will be to claim my rights before the revolutionary courts.

Perhaps the new offensive has another goal. Destroy attempts to re-establish communication between Cuba and the United States. The products were imported from that northern country through agency “Universal Postal service” in the Office of international exchange (OIC). Cuban and American representatives initiated talks to standardize the service of mail between the two countries in September 2009.

On the other hand, the filters of the Customs Agencies show that political interests that run the country, supersede the interests of all Cubans. It punishes equally, applying the legislation extraordinarily and arbitrarily to a group of citizens who publicly express their feelings about the Government.

September 11, 2010