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Family has to pay thousands to Cuba to get body back (con't)

As of this afternoon almost $6000 had been raised from 86 people over nine days.

Browne said having Steve’s body cremated is the cheapest way to return him to Canada.

“If I wanted to bring the body back it would have been $24,000,” she said.

She called the charge “ridiculous” and wondered if this was simply a way for the Communist Cuban government to raise hard currency.

“They probably think we’re all rich over here,” she said.

Browne contacted Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, which told her to send the money to the government department, and it would be forwarded to the Cuban government agency ASISTUR, which “acts as an intermediary and also coordinates the funeral arrangements and the transportation up to a Canadian airport.”

ASISTUR also handles cremation, the paperwork, cargo flight and delivering the remains to the airline.

“The amount required by the Canadian Embassy in Havana to ensure payment for the cremation of the remains is $ 7,075 CAD (5 500 CUC - Cuban convertible pesos),” it said.

Foreign Affairs also stated that a “fixed fee of $75 has been added to the amount needed in order to cover the applicable consular service fees. Please find attached the credit card authorization form that needs to be filled out, signed and returned to me either by fax or a scanned copy via email.”

The government department did not answer a question by as to why the Cuban agency charges the amount in question.

Once Cuba receives the guarantee of payment and authorization from the Canadian embassy “usual delays for the repatriation of ashes are around 10 working days (but may take longer depending on time of the year or other circumstances).”

Browne said she’s called local MPs “and they’ve all told me that they can’t do nothing.”

The Canadian Cuban embassy has not responded to requests for comment.

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