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Cuba urged to allow duty-free imports after storm

Cuba’s government has been asked to help victims of Hurricane Sandy by suspending duties on imports of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Image: Franklin Reyes/AP/Press Association Images

AN OPPOSITION GROUP appealed to Cuba’s government Tuesday to help victims of Hurricane Sandy by suspending duties on imports of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

The storm hit the Caribbean last week, killing nearly 70 people, 11 of them in Cuba. The bulk of the fatalities were in Haiti.

The Havana government has not given an overall damage figure but just in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba 130,000 houses were damaged. Of these, more than 15,000 were destroyed.

After three hurricanes devastated Cuba in 2008, causing an estimated $10 billion in damage, the government did exempt imported foodstuffs from taxes. But the measure expired on September 3.

On Tuesday, the Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission urged the government to let food, medicine and other basic necessities into the country duty-free for at least a year.

This should include food and medicine sent by private citizens, NGOs, and foreign governments or organizations, said the commission, which is technically illegal but is tolerated by the Communist government.

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- © AFP, 2012

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