By Vish Gain for AMLi
WESTERN UNION is going to halt its US money transfers to Cuba in the next ten days following new regulations by the Trump administration
A total of 407 Western Union offices will have to close in the northern Caribbean country, in a major blow to large numbers of Cubans dependent on remittances from family members in the US.
This comes at a time when the socialist country, which has a complicated relationship with the US, is already grappling with economic turmoil as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
Western Union, the world’s largest money transfer service, said that remitters can send money until November 22 while the deadline to receive the money the following day. The new rules come into effect on November 26.
Fincimex, Western Union’s main Cuban partner, released strongly worded responses on its Facebook page, commenting on the “unilateral measures of the current US government aimed at choking the Cuban economy amid the adverse effects of the Covid-19. Pandemic.”
“Fincimex reiterates that the interruption of remittance service between the two countries is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the United States government and reaffirms its will and commitment to the Cuban family to identify and sustain orderly and secure remittance flows.”
Meanwhile, Western Union said it had failed to find a solution in the one-month timeframe it was given. “Our customers have our commitment that we will continue to explore every possible option to find a solution,” it said.
The US government believes the move will prohibit the participation of companies controlled by the Cuban military in the processing of remittances. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the measure seeks to cut the Cuban military out of the business and cut off funds that flow to Cuban security agencies accused of human rights violations in Cuba and Venezuela, the Miami Herald reported.
Remittances, mostly from Cuban Americans, are the Cuban government’s third-largest source of revenue, estimated at more than $3 billion yearly.
The Obama administration had opened up remittances and large-scale travel between the US and Cuba in a historic move that ended cold relations between the two countries. While Donald Trump has undone much of the work in improving relations, the election of Joe Biden can be light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of Cuban families on both sides of the waters.
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