A Quebec travel agency is offering clients a $300 discount on its travel packages to Cuba in exchange for taking a suitcase full of personal items into the country.
The company says it is simply acting as a middleman for expatriate Cubans wishing to send hard-to-find everyday items to Cuba.
Montreal-based Antillas Express offers clients a rebate if they take a suitcase past Cuban customs.
A spokesperson who did not want to be identified said the practice is legal and that the company assumes full responsibility for what’s inside the luggage.
“We check all the merchandise because it’s in our interests that it reaches its destination,” the spokesperson told The Canadian Press. “It’s not in our interest that the merchandise be confiscated at the Cuban border.”
She said relatives often use the service to send such items as Aspirin, clothing and pens to family members back home.
Company representatives pick up the suitcase at the airport, and then deliver the items to their intended recipients.
“This way, you can send more (goods to Cuba) and for cheaper prices than (through) the mail,” the spokesperson said.
A U.S. embargo against the Communist island country has long restricted what can be sent there from the United States, and forbids exporting products to Cuba through third countries.
The embargo, which has been in place since 1963, was tightened again in 2004, forcing ex-pats to find new ways for sending gifts back home.