Every year each Floridian pay more than $1,000 to Cuba: The Castro Tax
By Pedro González Munné *
Every Floridian pays a tax to the Cuban military regime of the Castro dynasty. The numbers go around more than $1,032 per each of us. That does not count the waste of our hard earn tax dollars by the federal government in the stations Radio and TV Marti or the USAID brilliant projects, like the one that landed Alan Gross on an island jail, what his wife qualify as a “pawn from a failed policy between the two governments” (as cited in Mak, 2012).
I’m not going into the corruption tax we all pay, as a recent study shows give us the dubious award of the then state “most corrupt of the nation” with around $20 billion a year (Liu, 2014:1,348, 355), meaning $1,308 per capita for each one of us, white, black, brown or … whatever skin configuration grows in this beautiful swamp.
Let’s concentrate in one of the most flourishing industries in Florida that drains more money south than the men made drainage canals of the Okeechobee to Biscayne Bay: the industry of travel to Cuba.
This semi-legal business –mostly in cash- in theory works under three federal licenses under the embargo: Charter and Travel Service Providers and Remittance Forwarders (OFAC, 2014), under the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of the Treasury. Did I say control? Sorry, wrong word.
Only a few dozens of offices and companies that swarm Hialeah, Little Havana and other Cuban émigrés enclaves have those licenses. The rest are mostly owned by a few hundred privileged children and close relatives of Cuban high-level leaders residing now in Florida (Aquique-Luna, 2014), which many consider a pathway for payments and proceeds from corruption with obvious cases of Cuban “deserters” transformed into millionaires in their short time residing in the United States (Tamayo, 2013).
Everybody now that the economy is bad, so are the remittances of immigrants to their countries of origin, but with Cuba is different, especially if we are to believe the study carried out by The Havana Consulting Group, based in Miami, with figures reaching to the tunes of $2,770 billion in 2013, 6.57% increase in comparison with the previous year (Morales, 2013).
You can say that all these figures could have a high per cent of guessing. Well, the Department of State “estimated” last year the remittances to the island between $1.4 and $2 billion (BWHA, 2013), numbers very difficult to control, since the “hawala” (alternative Asian remittance illegal chain- (Jost, 2000) in Cuba works with the term of the “pots” [macetas, new Cuban enriched entrepreneurs] that receive cash in Miami and distribute pesos almost immediately on the island with their own illegal networks.
Want a few more numbers? An example is the Consulate of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington D.C., which process documentation related to the Cuban community. Although there are no figures of official amounts of these “formalities”, only on passports for 350,000 Cuban travelers to the island in 2013 (Sources, 2014), at a cost every six years of $755.00 each, represent $264,250,000 million dollars.
An additional income to the Cuban Government comes from landing fees for the nine flights daily from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa to six to airports in the island, for $66,150,000 and the mandatory medical insurance for each passenger $17,150,000, every year (Sources, 2014).
So, can you see that our crooked politicians and hard line Cuban exiles screaming about maintaining the Embargo does not look so bad now? Somebody is drinking mojitos and smoking a cigar –a real Habano- 90 miles south from Kew West, having the day of his life… at our cost.
* Cuban American exiled journalist, researcher and writer. Publish The Cuban Nation and Emigración and nine books. Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Havana, actually Masters Candidate in Communications.
Aquique-Luna, D. (2014, Abr. 4). Los hijos de altos dirigentes prefieren el exilio [The Children of Senior Leaders Prefer exile]. Diario de Cuba, Madrid, Spain. Retrieved from http://www. diariodecuba. com/cuba/1396557423_7969.html
BWHA (2013, Aug. 30). U.S. Relations with Cuba. U.S. Dept. of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2886.htm
Jost, P. M. & Sandhu, H. S. (2000).The Hawala Alternative Remittance System and Its Role in Money Laundering. Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC. Prepared by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in cooperation with INTERPOL/FOPAC. Retrieved from http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/documents/fincen-hawala-rpt.pdf
Liu, Cheol & Mikesell, John L. (2014, May/June). The Impact of Public Officials’ Corruption on the Size and Allocation of U.S. State Spending. Public Administration Review, 74(3):346–359. doi: 10.11 11/puar.12212. — See more at: http://journalistsresource.org/studies/ government/budget/pu blic-officials-corruption-impact-u-s-state-spending#sthash.tvqI E2em.dpuf
Mak, T. (2012, Mar. 13). Wife’s plea for American held in Cuba. Politico, Arlington, VA [Web Page]. 12:27 PM EDT. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/739 31. Html
Morales, E. (2013, Dec. 29). Año 2013: récord de remesas y viajeros a Cuba [Year 2013: record of remittances and travelers to Cuba]. Café Fuerte [Web Page]. Retrieved from http://cafefuerte.com/ cuba/9915-ano-2013-record-de-remesas-y-viajeros-a-cuba/
OFAC (2014, May 1st). List of authorized providers of air, travel and remittance forwarding services to Cuba. Department of the Treasury [Web Page]. Retrieved from http://www.treasury.gov/resourcecenter/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_tsp.pdf
Sources (2014). Interviews and reports from the Cuban company Havanatur. Sources of The Cuban Nation newspaper. http://www.thecubannation.com
Tamayo, J. O. (2013, Jan. 26). Cuban comrade now a house-flipping capitalist savant. The Miami Herald. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/26/3202566/cuban-com rade-now-a-house-flipping.html