14ymedio, Havana, 27 October 2020 — Fincimex, one of the companies in Cuba’s military conglomerate GAESA, reported in an ambiguous statement that they will close the 407 Western Union offices in Cuba, after the new provisions announced by the United States last Friday which prohibit the sending of remittances through companies linked to the military.
In a call from this newspaper to one of the Western Union offices in Havana, the employee declared: “officially they have not told us anything about closing, what we understand is that we can continue to operate without problems until November 27,” and she added, “I am not guided by Facebook but by official guidance and here they have not ordered us to close.”
In a statement published on Tuesday afternoon, Fincimex notes that its inclusion in the list of entities restricted by the US State Department last June, and the modifications announced by the Treasury Department to the regulations for the control of assets Cubans on October 23, “will prevent remittances to Cuba through US companies with general licenses, thereby directly harming the Cuban people and their families in the US.”
“Doing so in the midst of a pandemic underscores the cynicism, the contempt for the Cuban people and the opportunism of the US government,” the statement emphasizes.
The company, a subsidiary of the Business Administration Group (Gaesa), controlled by the powerful Brigadier General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, Raúl Castro’s ex-minister who was sanctioned on September 30 by the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), emphasizes that it has guaranteed — “out of professionalism and respect” — commercial relations with US companies for the management of remittances to Cuba for more than 20 years. “In this entire history there is not a penny lost and, instead, a constant development of the benefits, despite the pressure and attacks on the banking channels,” he says.
And he continues: “Among the North American companies affected is Western Union, an entity whose 407 payment points distributed throughout the country will close because of these brutal provisions.”
These measures, he insists, “also block the negotiations that, at the request of Fincimex, had been going on for months to launch the service of receiving remittances directly to bank accounts in freely convertible currency (MLC)*.”
*Translator’s note: A newly created network of government stores in Cuba accept payment only by way of magnetic cards loaded with foreign currency. These stores carry products virtually unavailable elsewhere, ranging from appliances to shampoo.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.