The “Cuban market” in Port-au-Prince is part of a global trade, estimated to top $2 billion.
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Most people don't think of Haiti as a shopping destination.The "Cuban market" in Port-au-Prince is part of a global trade, estimated to top $2 billion, fed by the confluence of Cubans' increased freedom to travel with the communist state's continued domination of the economy back home.What's more, Cuba's state monopoly on imports and exports excludes the small but vibrant private sector, which employs more than a half million people who often earn three or four times a state worker's salary.Since Cuba did away with a hated exit permit five years ago, Cubans are packing flights to destinations with easy entry requirements. Panama is so eager for Cuban business that its embassy in Havana has started giving Cubans with private business licenses on-the-spot "tourist cards" that eliminate the need for a lengthy visa application process.The Miami-based Havana Consulting Group estimated in an August study that Cubans spent more than $2 billion in 2017 on bringing goods back to the island.In the neighborhood surrounding the market, dozens of Cubans run bed-and-breakfasts for traveling shoppers in homes rented from Haitian owners. Dozens of Haitian "guides" help Cubans hunt down specialized goods like electronics and hardware.
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