The Miami News, January 25, 1968, "Many As 2,000 Parcels Go to Cuba Monthly" by Dick Holland.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 packages a month are sent by Cuban exiles to relatives in their homeland, U.S. officials here said today. The volume of shipments surges tremendously before such holidays as Christmas, they said.
U.S. Customs Officer Joe Boyett said two or three private companies here specialize in shipping the parcels to Cuba. None go directly to Cuba; they all are routed by way of Mexico, Spain or Canada.
"Most of the packages get through," said Boyett. "But the length of time varies considerably - and the problem is all on the other end."
At Miami International Airport, where a package-bearing Mexican airplane was bombed last Saturday, there is no problem in finding a plane to take them out, Boyett said. Both Pan American Airways and the Dutch KLM Airline frequently carry such packages, he said. "But getting the stuff actually, physically into Cuba is sometimes a problem.
"Only Cubana Airlines, the official Cuban government line, can pick up the packages and fly them into Cuba. And the capacity of Cubana is very limited."
Exile sources here said a package frequently reaches a relative in the homeland in two weeks. But, it was learned today, the packages often pile up at some place such as Merida, Mex., for three months before they are picked up and flown into Cuba. This was confirmed by Boyett.
One U.S. official said it evidently depends on someone in Havana making arbitrary decisions. Cuban officials inspect every package arriving from the U.S. "All of a sudden, they will say that no inspectors are available," the official said.
Customs processes the great majority of the packages sent from here. For some time, the U.S. Post Office has not accepted anything for Cuba except medicines and regular letters.
Postmaster Eugene Dunlap in Miami said such mail also has been seriously delayed at intervals, and he has contacted the Department in Washington about it. So far, Dunlap said, there has been no change in instructions.
Restrictions imposed by Customs limit such packages to $100 in declared value, with a limit of a single package at a time from any one individual or organization. "These shipments are all 'gift' shipments," said Boyett. "That is, food, medicines, sundries, clothing things that you'd normally consider as gifts."
Canned foods, aspirin and shoes turn up in most of the packages, he said. And just before Christmas, there were many baby toys and other children's gifts. The parcels may be sent only from individuals or charitable institutions and organizations, Boyett said. And the same restrictions apply to the addressees.
U.S. officials said they were surprised by the bombings, apparently directed at the package shipments, because the great majority of exiles here have always been sympathetic to the package shipments.
Copyright (c) 1968 The Miami News