The decision will notably restrict the sending of remittances to Cuba from the United States
WASHINGTON – The United States announced this Saturday that it decided to prohibit the sending of remittances to Cuba through companies controlled by the Cuban Armed Forces , a measure that will take effect at the end of November and that seeks to tighten the yoke on the island to just ten days of the American elections.
In practice, the announcement will significantly restrict the sending of money to the island, unless companies such as Western Union , which channel remittances, reach an agreement with the Cuban government to circumvent the sanctions.
“Remittances to Cuba may continue to flow, but they will not pass through the hands of the Cuban military, who use those funds to oppress the Cuban people and to finance Cuban interference in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The measure, approved this Friday by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department, will be published next Tuesday 27 in the US Federal Register and will take effect 30 days later – that is, on November 26 – ” to allow its technical implementation, ”Pompeo explained.
Foreign companies that want to operate in Cuba must have a state counterpart, and in the case of Western Union, that partner has been since 2016 the financial services firm Fincimex, linked to the military conglomerate GAESA.
The State Department included Fincimex in June , and in September its subsidiary American International Services (AIS) , in the “black list” of companies with which Americans are prohibited from carrying out transactions , and the new regulations prevent the processing of remittances with any entity included in that list.
Pompeo denounced that “Cuba is the only country in the Americas where the military takes part of the remittances”, thanks to “a system that is made with cash through mechanisms operated by the military such as Fincimex and AIS”
A hard blow for a country in crisis
These two companies process about half of the remittances sent to Cuba, according to The Miami Herald newspaper.
The government of President Donald Trump limited in 2019 the amount of remittances that Cubans and Americans can send to their relatives on the island, up to a maximum of $ 1,000 per person per quarter.
The restriction promises to hit many Cubans hard at a time when the island is going through serious economic straits, reflected in a shortage of food and basic products that has been growing since the pandemic forced the country to close its borders to tourism in April.
Western Union told the “Miami Herald” that it is asking for clearer explanations about what the regulation will entail, while in Florida, some agencies have already started looking for alternatives since September, such as sending remittances through Banco Metropolitano and Banco Popular de Savings, from the Cuban government.
The President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, regretted the measure in a tweet, stating that “the United States of America. he insists on harming the Cuban family ”with his sanctions.
“Perverse intentions of the imperial government that discredits and ridicules him for his sick hatred against a small nation whose heroic people do not surrender,” wrote the Cuban president.
Trump has stepped up his policy toward Cuba as the November 3 elections approach, in which he seeks a second term and wants to retain the favor of Cuban-Americans in the key state of Florida.