Western Union Resumes Remittances to Cuba Without Explaining Why It Suspended the Service

Although in a statement the financial company announced the operations are “with immediate effect,” at the moment they are only available from Miami and Hialeah

A Western Union office in Miami, Florida / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 May 2024 — Service from the United States to Cuba by Western Union is again possible as of this Thursday. In a statement, the financial company announced that “in coordination with its counterpart, Orbit SA,” it resumes remittances to the Island “with immediate effect.”

Although the notice states that operations can be carried out both in any office in the United States and through the mobile application, from a branch in Florida 14ymedio was told that, if a shipment is going to be made, it is advisable to do it from the application or specifically from some office in Miami or Hialeah, “so as not to have inconveniences, since not everywhere is accepting them.”

As was the case since the financial institution restarted operations in January 2023 , and after a two-year interruption, the limit per transaction will be $2,000 and must be applied to a card or an account at Banco Popular de Ahorro, the Bank Metropolitano or the Bank of Credit and Commerce (Bandec). Likewise, the service “is limited solely to consumer money transfers,” WU said in its statement.

“We understand that our service is a crucial connection between those living in the United States and their family living in Cuba,” said Rodrigo García Estebarena, president of WU for North and Latin America, without explaining the reasons why operations were suspended, at the end of last January.

“We understand that our service is a crucial connection between those living in the United States and their family living in Cuba”

Those were the same days that the Government paralyzed the entry into force of the new fuel prices due to an alleged “cybersecurity incident.”

Without mentioning that “incident” or even the remittances, Banco Metropolitano released a statement on February 1 in which it warned that it was having “technical difficulties.” Widespread suspicion about the hack, which, according to official sources, had affected the marketing system of Cimex, a corporation belonging to the military conglomerate Gaesa, increased among Cubans when the then Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil Fernández, was dismissed.

On February 9, the Director of Communications, Brad Jones, wrote to this newspaper from the company’s Headquarters in Denver (Colorado), to say that the date of April 1, which had been provided to 14ymedio by employees of two offices in the United States for the reestablishment of remittances to the Island, was not correct.

After apologizing for the confusion, which it blamed on the fact that “someone in the customer service department” may have given “incorrect information,” the firm asked for an official statement to be released: “Western Union is experiencing technical difficulties in the processing part of our operations that have caused a temporary suspension of services between the United States and Cuba. The company is supporting its counterpart [the Cuban financial company Orbit] to resume services between the two countries as soon as possible.”

Later, when 14ymedio asked about the new requirements, Jones insisted, without referring to any date: “Our services remain suspended due to technical problems with the processing of transactions from the United States to Cuba. We are working with the counterpart to help them resolve these problems as quickly as possible.”

This Thursday, without any prior announcement, the “problems,” never made known, have been resolved.

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