Embargo Forces Cuba to Cease Consular Services in the USA

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Interests Section in Washington announced today the suspension of its consular services in the United States over the inability to get a bank to service their accounts in the country, reported dpa news.

The diplomatic mission warned of the “negative consequences” the situation will have for Cubans and Americans and exchanges with the island.

“The Interests Section particularly regrets the effects that this situation will cause Cuban and US citizens due to the inability of the consular section to continue facilitating the paperwork associated with the issuance of passports, visas, legalization of documents and other services,” said the diplomatic mission in a statement sent to reporters in Washington.

This situation, the statement noted, will have “negative consequences for family visits and academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and other types of exchanges between Cuba and the US.”

According to the Cuban mission, M & T, the bank operating their accounts in the USA, said back in July that it would no longer serve foreign diplomatic legations.

Since then, the statement adds, it was not possible to find a new financial institution willing to manage the Cuban accounts, “because of the restrictions resulting from the US government policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.”

Monte St. in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

This situation “will cause serious problems for the normal functioning of the Cuban Interests Section and the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations,” the statement further noted.

The first consequence: “The Cuban Interests Section is obliged to suspend, effective November 26, 2013, the consular services until further notice,” noting that it will only attend a “limited” number of issues such as “humanitarian proceedings.”

The Cuban diplomatic representation in the U.S. reminded the State Department of its “legal obligation to ensure compliance” with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations establishing that diplomatic missions should receive “every facility” to exercise their functions.

In the absence of direct diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States maintains “interest sections” that allow them to provide consular services and maintain scant bilateral relations, for example on migration matters, although staff has serious action and movement restrictions.


33 thoughts on “Embargo Forces Cuba to Cease Consular Services in the USA

  • November 29, 2013 at 7:33 pm
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    The U.S. banking regulations have become stricter. If huge fines are being levied by the U.S. against banks in other countries for financial transactions with Cuba, why do you think banks in the U.S. will assume it doesn’t apply to them, too. You clearly haven’t tried to open a bank account in the U.S. lately. It isn’t 1977.

  • November 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm
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    Which again is irrelevant in this case, since the bank is just backing a service, not granting credit. Yes, doing business with Cuba is risky BECAUSE of the US embargo AND the side effects of the denomination of Cuba as state sponsor of terrorism for political reasons.

    The bottom line is that even if the worst allegations were true, as long as a country have a diplomatic representation of some sort in the US or the UN, the US government has the obligation to provide the basic services needed to keep it functional, even if that means providing an exception to their own laws.

    Failing on that obligation, they face a range of countermeasures from both the affected country and the international community in general, with reciprocal measures as the norm in these cases.

  • November 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm
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    These cases are all related in that they all demonstrate that Cuba is a risky country to do business with. The banking business is sensitive to risks and will seek to reduce it wherever possible.

    The North Korean sugar missile incident involved a North Korean ship, which has been impounded in Panama, but it also involves Cuba which was engaged in weapons trading with North Korea, in violation of UN sanctions. Cuba will at the very least face diplomatic penalties for that.

    Cuba also has a history of stiffing their creditors and has recently taken to arresting foreign business partners on trumped up corruption charges when they get so uppity as to demand payment on overdue accounts.

    All of which underscores the fact that doing business with Cuba is a bad risk.

  • November 29, 2013 at 8:16 am
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    Which is irrelevant to this case, since the fines applied to banks doing business with Cuba in the last few years were imposed by the US government and are completely unrelated to any real or imaginary UN sanction.

    For starters, the NK shipping affair just happened this year and Cuba has not received any sanction whatsoever from the UN (that as far as I know is still investigating and is unclear of what kind of sanction if any they will impose).

    Also notice that the ship sails under the North Korea flag, so technically any violation of Panama laws was made by NK, not Cuba and is also irrelevant to the banking sanctions discussed here.

  • November 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm
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    North Korea is under UN sanctions banning all weapons sales to or from that country. Furthermore, the cargo was not declared as it transited the Panama Canal, violating Panamanian laws. So Cuba is in hot water on that issue.

    Simply put, Cuban is becoming too much of headache for banks to bother working with them. Behaving like a rogue state and trading with countries like North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan comes at a price.

  • November 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm
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    The only reason of those sanctions is because the US government tightened the screws with countries sponsoring terrorism last year and Cuba is in the list for political reasons. What Cuba does or doesn’t do is irrelevant, they are on the list and as such subjected to a **load of additional sanctions.

    The North Korea episode has nothing to do with this, North Korea is no longer in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism so whatever the Cuba government trades with them is not punished by these specific laws.

    The bottom line is that the reasons they posted to stop the consular services are valid and in this case the blame falls fair and square in the US embargo. There is no need for political posturing from the Cuban side on this particular issue, they can do that without compromising their revenue stream using other means, so when both sides said they are working to solve the situation in the shortest time possible, they probably mean it this time.

  • November 28, 2013 at 10:34 am
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    These consequences could prove as devastating as the embargo itself for Cuban’s economy, long term. But no problem, it will not affect one bit those in power.

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