Cubans travel to Mexico to purchase items sold on the black market on the island

Cubans travel to Mexico to purchase items sold on the black market on the island

The breeze was barely moving and the humidity was unbearable. Outside Terminal 2 of the Cancun International Airport, Juan Ernesto waited for his brother’s arrival on an Aeromexico flight from Havana. It was Jonathan’s first trip abroad.

The goal: to buy merchandise he could sell later on the island. “What’s selling most in Cuba right now are toiletries,” said Juan Ernesto.

Products like disposable diapers, soap, toothpaste, shampoo and hair conditioner are among the top items, said Juan Ernesto, who asked that his full name not be revealed for fear that Cuban customs officials would confiscate the goods when they arrived in Havana.

Traveling as a “mule” to supply the growing black market on the island is not legal. Cuba’s customs has been cracking down on those who bring in products to sell. Nevertheless, Cubans are increasingly traveling to places like Mexico, Panama, Russia and Guyana.

Statistics provided by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism showed that the number of Cubans who entered the country during the first six months of this year increased by 60.5 percent over the same period in 2017. The Cuban arrivals at Mexican airports totaled 69,105, compared to 43,055 in the previous period.

The year 2016 saw a peak of more than 100,000 Cubans arriving in Mexico. But with the end of the U.S. “dry foot, wet foot” policy in early 2017, the flow dropped to 83,000, presumably because a significant portion continued traveling north to reach the United States.[…]


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