14ymedio, Havana, 23 October 2020 — The United States government will prohibit remittances to Cuba that are sent through companies controlled by the military, according to a draft document published in the Federal Register. The measure will take effect on November 27.
Most of the money sent to the island goes through official mechanisms, and 51.3% of the companies that offer financial services in Cuba have contracts with Fincimex, the company managed by the military.
The document from the U.S. Office for the Control of Foreign Assets (Ofac) made public this Friday indicates that authorizations “related to remittances in transactions involving entities or sub-entities identified in the Restricted List of Cuba will be canceled.”
The measure will directly affect Western Union, the largest remittance company operating in Cuba, said Emilio Morales of the Havana Consulting Group, who has devoted himself to studying the flow of money and resources to the island.
“The United States wants the money to reach the hands of the Cuban people, not to stay in the coffers of the military, which is what has happened so far. We are talking about 3.7 billion dollars a year that they handle at will.” Morales said. According to the expert, “the Cuban government has created every possible mechanism to convert that money into its own source of financing.”
“How do you explain that the military have built 57 hotels in the last two years? Where does the investment money come from if tourism barely generates a gross income of 2.4 billion dollars and the profits are 12%?” he added.
Morales explained that in no other Latin American country is the remittance business controlled by the military. The money sent to Cuba “will continue to flow through agencies and informal channels, but it will no longer finance the repression,” he added.
The Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, condemned the new measures on Twitter, saying that it is aimed at “harming” the Cuban people. He also added that this decision “reaffirms that there are no limits for a criminal government in imposing policies that limit contacts, communication and mutual aid between the families of both countries.”
At the end of last September, the US State Department added the AIS (American International Service) magnetic cards to its Cuba Restricted List. The cards operate on the island as a way to receive remittances from abroad and are also managed by Fincimex. The US government justified its decision by saying that AIS is an institution controlled by the military.
Fincimex is a subsidiary of the Business Administration Group (Gaesa), controlled by the powerful Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s former minister, who was sanctioned on September 30 by OFAC itself.
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