Cuba Faces a Money Shortage at ATM’s and Unpaid Salaries

Limit of 5,000 Pesos in ATMs due to insufficient Banknotes

Lines to withdraw money from ATMs at the Metropolitan Bank of 23 and J. (14ymedio)

“With payroll done and everything, the bank does not accept to process the payment through the cards because they do not have money,” says a state worker

By Olea Gallardo 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – For six days Roberto has been trying to withdraw cash from an ATM in Havana, the last one this Thursday. In vain. One by one, he verified what all the inhabitants of the capital say this week: you can barely extract money.

The announcer Yunior Morales posted this Wednesday with humor on his social networks. “You go to any ATM and there is no money. And tremendous cristóbal colón,” he joked, referring to the immense lines [colas in Spanish]. At the time of making his transmission, an acquaintance greeted him: “What’s wrong, Yunior?” He replied: “Here with hunger, boy, I’m hungry.” “Why don’t you eat something then?” to which he replied: “I have to withdraw money first and no ATM works.” And he ends his video jokingly exaggerating: “I have a CDR [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] meeting about my hunger in my stomach. CDR because, you know, the CDR is hunger, gossip and conflict.”

The situation seems to spread to many other cities in the country. In Holguín, a teacher tells 14ymedio that Education workers now have their salaries divided in two: “one payment on the 5th and another on the 28th,” because “there is almost no money.” In addition, she says that “not even the employees of a bank know when there will be cash at the ATMs.”

A doctor from Sancti Spíritus says that in Public Health they are only paid by electronic transfer: “They deposit on the card, but for those who pay cash for things there is no money.”

More serious is what a state worker points out. “With payrolls made and everything, the bank does not accept payment through the cards because they don’t have money; the railroad is not an isolated situation,” he says referring to the unusual spontaneous strike organized on Tuesday by Artemis railway workers, in protest against the non-payment of their salaries in the last two months.

In Santiago de Cuba, complaints proliferate that “there is no money in the ATMs,” while groups in which human ATMs operate have multiplied on social networks. “Will exchange money in transfer for cash. I have the cash,” some say; “Will exchange CUP [pesos] transfer for cash,” say others. Some include the precise amount, such as 17,000 pesos, something unthinkable to extract in a bank.

Roberto from Havana tells this newspaper that he has verified in ATMs of “at least three municipalities” that, where before up to 10,000 pesos could be withdrawn in an operation, “and then there were 500 or 1,000 bills in the ATM, now they only allow 5,000 to be extracted,” and only in 20-peso bills.

This newspaper was able to verify this in the branch of the Metropolitan Bank (Banmet) on 23rd and J, in El Vedado, with such a central location that until recently it guaranteed any withdrawal, but the situation was chaos this Thursday. To begin with, you had to endure a gigantic line, divided into two: one to enter and another, the longest, for the ATMs. Of the six ATMs only two worked.

Inside the branch, for those who chose to extract money at the counter, the uncomfortable atmosphere was widespread and contagious. The employees were rude to people and arguing with each other; the customers were tremendously disgusted. Two elderly ladies were about to come to blows when one of them lost her place in line to go visit her sick daughter in the hospital and the other refused to let her back in: “Right now we are here,” said the latter, who lowered her voice when the threatened woman called the police.

A cashier rolled her eyes when an old man asked her what denominations she had, because he didn’t want the “little ones.” The man intended to get 40,000 pesos [$333 at the current exchange rate at change houses] and he couldn’t. “That can happen because there are very few large bills,” the employee told him.

“Every day the same thing,” said another lady in line. “They let people pass in front who are going to deposit pesos, and if you are going to extract them, no matter the amount, they give you bills of 20 pesos.”

“They are giving priority to those who are going to deposit national currency, but almost no one comes to do that. “Do they let someone who comes to deposit pesos go first because there are none?” asked another woman who had just arrived from another cashier, from which she had tried to withdraw cash unsuccessfully. “Let them tell the truth: there is no money.”

However, the authorities are silent these days. Last month, in the face of the citizen rumor that state workers would not be paid, the Sancti Spíritus government was in a hurry to deny it. On those days, however, 14ymedio verified that cash could not be extracted at the city’s 11 ATMs.

The problems were repeated in Havana, where the provincial government reported that 150 of the 521 Banmet ATMs in the capital (30%) were broken. Then, they also said that from April 8 to 14, cash withdrawals exceeded 200 million pesos per day.

No one knows what is happening in May, but citizens are increasingly desperate. “We are going to have to pay with cocoa seeds, because paper cash is an illusion,” says Roberto, who fears that “the entire country could be paralyzed at any time.”

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

4 thoughts on “Cuba Faces a Money Shortage at ATM’s and Unpaid Salaries

  • Heartfelt sorrow for the people of Cuba .
    God be with you you all ,
    The best people , I have encountered in the world, Love my Cuban friends .

  • With no more countries to step in to save the island anymore, the implosion is well underway with no way to reverse it.

  • People in cuba can not get food or medicine now. Cuba is restricting the luggage People can bring making it impossible for for people in cuba to stay healthy. The Cuban government needs to work with other governments and Co ops instead of the current restrictions

  • In or out, the peso has little or no value. The communist chickens have come home to rest.

    The option is to adopt capitalism and abandon Marx/Engels/Stalin/Castro.

    Has Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, the courage or common sense, to abandon his instructions from Raul Castro Ruz?

    No doubt, “El Bloqueo” will be held responsible, as indeed it always is when communist incompetence surfaces.

    Deep in his office at Revolution Square, Bruno Rodriguez is revising but retaining most of his annual spiel at the UN.

    Nothing changes in Cuba!

Comments are closed.