Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020
Cuba Says U.S. Restrictions Will Force Western Union Offices to Close

MEXICO CITY — In the encounter of widening American economic restrictions on Cuba, extra than 400 Western Union offices on the island will shut, Cuban authorities explained, a move that could severely restrict the movement of remittances from abroad and worsen a profound financial crisis that has led to widespread foods shortages on the island.

Fincimex, a Cuban military-managed entity that serves as Western Union’s agent on the island, announced the planned closures on Tuesday following the Trump administration took actions to prohibit the transfer of income via companies related with the country’s military.

Fincimex processes a lot of the remittance income, billions of bucks a yr that make up a considerable element of the Cuban economic system.

Western Union explained it was “exploring approaches to comply with the new guidelines,” which get result in late November, incorporating that companies concerning the United States and Cuba would carry on to operate for now.

Cuba’s Communist government could nevertheless designate other institutions with countrywide coverage, like banking institutions, to channel remittances in compliance with the new guidelines, analysts explained.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained the new restrictions have been imposed simply because the Cuban military has taken a reduce of the remittances and “uses people money to oppress the Cuban people today and to fund Cuba’s interference in Venezuela.”

Fincimex explained the new rules have been politically motivated and would harm the Cuban people today. “Doing so in the midst of a pandemic emphasizes cynicism, contempt for the Cuban people today and the opportunism of the American government,” the company explained in a statement.

The restrictions have been the most up-to-date work by the Trump administration in its aggressive campaign to roll back the American détente with Cuba and the policy of engagement begun by President Barack Obama.

But the timing, coming days prior to the American presidential election, is no coincidence, analysts explained.

The battleground state of Florida, property to a highly effective Cuban-American voting bloc that has historically tilted conservative, was element of the Trump administration’s equation, they explained.

“This is only electoral yr politics,” explained Ted A. Henken, associate professor of sociology at Baruch University in New York. “There is a robust probability that the Cuban vote can perform a part in trying to keep Florida in the Republican column this yr.”

Mr. Henken explained this week’s moves could have a disastrous result on Cuba’s population.

“If the Cuban government refuses to enable some other entity, like a financial institution, to do this, it could be a devastating blow to absolutely everyone who lives in element or in complete on remittances, which is in all probability 60 % of the population,” he explained. “This is placing a noose on the Cuban economic system and accepting that it is also all over the necks of daily Cubans.”

Emilio Morales, president of the Miami-based mostly Havana Consulting Group, explained the Trump administration’s restrictions have place the onus on the Cuban government at a time when it was presently struggling to shore up an economic system crippled by sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has brought tourism to a grinding halt and slowed remittances.

Billions of bucks in remittances have been transferred to Cuba final yr, Mr. Morales explained, with a lot of the movement passing via entities managed by the Cuban military and the rest reaching Cuba by other implies this kind of as family members arriving by plane and people today employed to carry in currency.

The arrangement has been rewarding for the Cuban military, Mr. Morales explained, creating it really reluctant to give up management. But the most up-to-date restrictions by the Trump administration, coinciding with this kind of a extreme financial downturn on the island, may perhaps depart the government with no alternative but to pry the remittances trade out of the generals’ hands.

“If the military does not give up the remittance company to other state institutions, they will run out of oxygen, it is that easy,” Mr. Morales explained.

“Obama attempted to empower the Cuban people today by opening remittances and massive-scale travel,” Mr. Morales continued. “However, his administration sad to say did not do the due diligence on how the remittance company was channeled to the island and inadvertently place billions of bucks a yr into the hands of the Cuban military leadership that in actuality in no way ended up in the hands of its genuine owners, the people today of Cuba.”

Frances Robles contributed reporting.

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