Thousands Turn to TV Martí for News on Food Import Taxes

Miami –  TV Martí’s YouTube channel is attracting an audience of thousands as users flock to the site seeking news about the return of a customs duty tax on food entering the island.

In one week, more than 6,000 people turned to TV Martí’s channel on the video sharing website for information about the revived tax.

TV Martí reporter Ricardo Quintana says “the story has struck a nerve among Cubans living abroad who will now find it more costly to provide food to their family members still living on the island.”

The Cuban government announced this month that it was re-imposing that tax on all food brought into Cuba from other countries. The tax was suspended in 2008 after a series of hurricanes.

Many Cubans living in Miami travel to Cuba specifically to deliver food to their families. The report detailed a doubling of charter flights to transport excess baggage, mostly food, on the eve of the return of the tax.With the tax back in place, many have cancelled planned visits.

After its post on YouTube, the story was viewed around the world. Other foreign press outlets have served as gateways to the video including with 3,179 hits.

Numerous comments from Cuba included observations that the duty on travelers’ luggage is a blow to the self-employed who have benefited from an import of goods without taxes and that it will have a direct impact on average Cuban families’ sustenance.

Radio and TV Martí broadcast news, information and analysis in a wide variety of interactive programming to Cuba seven days a week by television, satellite, shortwave and medium wave, as well as through flash drives and DVDs. The Martís reach over 480,000 Cubans through e-mail and text messages on a regular basis.

The Martís,based in Miami, are operated by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, part of the independent U.S. government agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors.