14ymedio, Havana, 9 November 2020 — “We invite our clients to speed up shipments to their relatives in Cuba,” advised Khalid Fellahi, general manager of Western Union Digital, assuring that the more than 400 offices the company has on the island are currently operating.
“It is important that your loved ones collect the funds sent as soon as possible. Money transfers made through the Western Union App or from our offices in the United States can be collected in minutes in Cuba,” Fellahi said in a published statement on the company’s website.
Fellahi said his company is exploring all possible alternatives to “continue helping you to send your love and support to the people in Cuba,” and also indicated that the remittances Cubans receive “are often used to pay for food, rent, other expenses or to support micro-businesses. We take our role in this process very seriously.”
The businessman noted that recently the US Government made changes to the regulations for sending remittances to the Island. “When moving your money, we have the obligation to comply with all government regulations. The new regulation grants a period of 30 days, as of October 27, for the implementation of the new restrictions,” he clarified.
“Western Union is working hard to find a solution,” Fellahi said, saying that they will update customers on the status of shipments to Cuba “as information becomes available.”
Fellahi’s statements come a few days after the financial corporation Fincimex, linked to the Armed Forces of Cuba, ruled out the possibility of enabling alternative routes for sending remittances that, until now, have reached the island through the collaboration of the Western Union and the Cuban government company.
“Through different channels from the United States an attempt is being made to establish a shared opinion that remittances would not be interrupted if Cuba accepted the imposition of the United States to establish a payment network in Cuba different from the current network,” a note released by Fincimex complained.
At the end of last month, the US Government announced that it will prohibit the sending of money to the island through companies controlled by the military. The document from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) indicates that authorizations “related to remittances in transactions involving entities or sub-entities identified in Cuba’s Restricted List will be canceled.”
In September of this year, the US State Department added the AIS (American International Service) magnetic cards to its Restricted List in Cuba; the cards operate on the island 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.
Foreign companies that want to operate in Cuba must have a state counterpart. In the case of Western Union, since 2016 that partner has been the financial services firm Fincimex, linked to the military conglomerate Gaesa, controlled by the powerful Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s ex-minister, who was sanctioned by OFAC on September 30 of this year.
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