By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban financial entity Fincimex announced today that operations of Western Union in Cuba will end on November 23rd. The date was agreed upon by the two companies, reported the government website Cubadebate.cu.
The largest receiver of family remittances in Cuba will close its 407 pay spots because the US Treasury sanctioned Fincimex. The Trump administration is trying to keep money from going to the corporations, like Fincimex, belonging to the Cuban military. Treasury said the prohibition would take effect as of November 27th.
Western Union has operated in Cuba for 20 years in conjunction with Fincimex. People send dollars which go to the military corporation while receivers get the devalued CUC currency.
The Cuban government does not sell dollars to the public. But Cubans need dollars to deposit on bank cards that allow them to shop at the dollar stores. They can either get their account/cards replenished from abroad or they can buy dollars illegally and deposit them.
They can also receive dollars in cash from visiting friends or family members or as tips or purchases.
The two Cuban currencies lose value by the day
Buying basic food and hygiene products in the two Cuban currencies (CUC & CUP) is often impossible. The government prefers to stock its dollar stores to capture that hard currency. Those unable to get dollars are flat out of luck.
The US gave Cuba a month to find a non-military entity to handle the remittances. However, the Castro-Diaz Canel government said they would not accept such interference in their affairs. If a last minute arrangement isn’t found, it will be ordinary Cubans who will pay the price.
Joe Biden said during his campaign that he would restore Obama era liberalization of sending remittances. The new president takes office on January 20. However, his plate will be full to undo many aspects of the Trump presidency. At this time, Cuba is not expected to be near the top of the agenda.