14ymedio, Havana, 20 December 2016 — Jose Marti International Airport in Havana is busy. The increase in tourists, the avalanche of foreign journalists who came to the island on the occasion of the death of Fidel Castro and the proximity of the end of the year recharged its infrastructure. To this is added the completion, on 31 December, of the deadline for those who have not yet made their first non-commercial import of this year, paid for in national currency, the Cuban peso (CUP).
The “mules” who travel and buy, preferably in Panama, Cancun or Miami, are hurrying to bring everything in the country before the last day of the year. According to customs regulations, in force since September 2014, each resident in the national territory can make a single import annually, beyond what is considered personal effects, with the duties paid in Cuban pesos. Duties on merchandise brought in on subsequent trips must be paid in Cuban convertible pesos, which are worth 25 times more than Cuban pesos.
The most behind are in a rush and it is common to see Cubans arriving on flights from Interjet, Aeromexico, Cubana and Copa Airlines loaded with boxes filled with air conditioners, flat screen TVs and other appliances. The luggage collection rooms are overwhelmed with so many bundles and tourists look stunned at the parade of technology.