14ymedio, Miami, 31 March 2023 — The sign in front of the Western Union office located at 6590 Pembroke Road, in Miami, has raised the indignation of its Cuban customers. “Cuba is open for business!” says the poster in English; it is illustrated with a flag of the Island and also reminds people that remittances are limited to $2,000 for debit cards and Cuban bank accounts. The service is available, it continues, for Banco Popular, the Metropolitan and Credit and Commerce (Bandec).
“What do you mean that Cuba is open to business? That’s a lie,” an émigré from Havana scolded the employee on Thursday, who was given a number of reasons: “There is a dictatorship; it is a totalitarian, oppressive, repressive, murderous regime.”
The worker, embarrassed, kindly agreed with him, but argued: “I think it refers to the fact that unlike the time when Western Union was closed for Cuba, now you can send money.” For the client, that was a very different thing from what the poster suggested, which he called “a lack of respect for the exile community.”
Earlier this month, Western Union announced that it was open for sending remittances to Cuba from any of its offices in the United States, after a two-month pilot program in Florida. The payment channels used are those of the official Cuban agency Orbit, through which Cubans receive their money in dollars.
Western Union suspended remittances to Cuba — the country’s second source of income, behind the sale of medical services and ahead of tourism — in November 2020, after the government of then-President Donald Trump sanctioned Fincimex and AIS, two remittance processing entities, for their links with Gaesa, the conglomerate of companies led by the Cuban military.
A month earlier, the United States Government had formally banned remittances to Cuba sent through companies controlled by the Armed Forces. According to the available data, 51.3% of the companies that then offered financial services in Cuba had contracts with Fincimex.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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