14ymedio, Madrid, 9 February 2024 — Western Union, which has not been able to make transfers to Cuba for more than ten days, has clarified that “although the services are temporarily suspended, we are working to resume operations as soon as possible.” In a message sent by email to 14ymedio this Friday, the company states that the date of April 1 for the restoration of remittances, provided to this newspaper by employees of two offices in the United States, is “not correct”.
The director of Communications, Brad Jones, says that his company “is trying to contact the customers affected by the service interruption to propose the return of their transfers.”
After apologizing for the confusion, which they attribute to the fact that “someone from the customer service department” gave “incorrect information,” the firm asks for its official statement to be disseminated: “Western Union is experiencing technical difficulties in the processing of operations that has caused a temporary suspension of services between the United States and Cuba. The company is supporting its counterpart [the Cuban financier Orbit] to resume services between the two countries as soon as possible.”
The company says that the date of April 1 for the restoration of remittances, provided to this newspaper by employees of two offices in the United States, is not correct
On February 1, after the complaints of several customers in Florida who weren’t able to send remittances to their relatives on the Island, Western Union employees told 14ymedio, in several telephone calls, that “at the moment shipments to Cuba are not available until further notice,” without further details.
The problems of making transfers from abroad, exclusively to the Island, were not only occurring from the United States but also from other countries, and not only with Western Union, but with other platforms, such as Cuballama and Cubatel.
On Wednesday 31, a day before the main economic measures agreed by the Government last December came into force, the authorities decided to cancel them, citing “a cybersecurity incident.”
The next day, without mentioning this “incident” or the remittances, the Metropolitan Bank issued a statement in which it warned that it was having “technical difficulties” that affected “branch services and those associated with payment technology channels.”
“If you have questions specifically related to transaction processing in Cuba, contact Orbit directly”
The widespread suspicion about the hacking, which, according to official sources, had affected the marketing system of Cimex, a corporation belonging to the Gaesa military conglomerate, increased among Cubans when the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil Fernández, was dismissed last Friday.
By telephone, Fincimex has not given a date for the solution of the problems. “We are still working on the breakdown, but there is nothing yet,” an employee told this newspaper last Wednesday.
Western Union suspended remittances to Cuba in November 2020, due to the sanctions of the Trump Administration on Fincimex and AIS (American International Services), 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.
Western Union mentions Orbit in one of its responses to 14ymedio this Friday: “If you have questions specifically related to the processing of transactions in Cuba, contact Orbit directly, since they are more qualified to discuss the matter. We are relying on Orbit to help us resume operations as soon as possible.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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