14ymedio, Miami/Havana, 1 February 2024 — “At the moment, deliveries to Cuba are not available until further notice,” is the response of an employee of a Western Union office in Miami this Thursday, confirming to 14ymedio the impossibility of sending remittances in this way, after trying both in the application and in three physical branches. When asked the reason, the worker replied that “the information for security reasons cannot be shared.”
Nor can payments be made to the Island for Cuballama and Cubatel (to recharge telephone cards). In this last application, the message was clearer: “We’re sorry, but money transfers are temporarily unavailable due to problems with Cuba’s destination banks and institutions.”
“Yesterday we had customers with the same problem,” said the Western Union employee. However, a young resident of Florida said an amount he had sent on January 29 was returned to him.
The fact that the remittances have been affected by a problem in Cimex reinforces suspicions about the mysterious firm Orbit
This Wednesday, the Cuban Government decided to postpone the entry into force of the new prices for fuels, citing “a cybersecurity incident in computer systems for the commercialization of fuels whose origin has been identified in a virus from the outside.” The hack, according to official sources, affected the commercialization system of Cimex, a corporation belonging to the all-powerful Gaesa military conglomerate.
Without linking it to this issue, this Thursday the Metropolitan Bank issued a statement warning that “there are technical difficulties that affect branch services and those associated with payment technology channels” and added that “it is working uninterruptedly to restore the service in the shortest possible time.”
In a call to the network payment service, an employee told 14ymedio that “the problem is Fincimex” – Cimex’s financier – and she didn’t know when it will be solved. “Keep up to date with the news or visit the bank to ask every day,” was her advice.
Western Union suspended remittances to Cuba in November 2020, due to the sanctions of the Administration of then-President Donald Trump on Fincimex and AIS, because they are managed by the Cuban military. In January 2023, services resumed, this time with a different intermediary: the “non-banking” financial institution Orbit S.A., approved by the Central Bank of Cuba a year earlier.
The fact that the remittances have been affected by a problem in Cimex reinforces suspicions about the mysterious firm.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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