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Cuba Limits Amount Of Goods In Flyers' Baggage

Flickr / kozumel

In the five years since travel restrictions to Cuba were eased, Cuban-American air travelers have been taking about $2 billion worth of products a year to their relatives who still live on the island.

Now Cuban authorities are limiting the amount of goods that can be brought in and have also increased customs duties on many items still allowed. The Cuban government says the new rules are meant to curtail the illegal operations of so-called "mules" who import items for black-market businesses.

According to The Havana Consulting Group, a Miami-based firm that tracks Cuba's economy, the average air traveler brings about $3,500 worth of goods to Cuba in one trip.

The firm says those goods -- plus the remittances Cuban-Americans send their struggling relatives -- are keeping many Cuban families alive.

Quality goods are in short supply in Cuba because, quite simply, nothing is made there. Ordinary Cubans are reacting with worry and outrage that their primary -- and for many only -- source of high-quality consumer goods is now put in a stranglehold by the government action.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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