By Yisell Rodríguez Milán / November 22, 2020
Lies, manipulation, coercion and the use of force have been among the principal tools of U.S. policy toward Cuba for more than 60 years. Ending what the world and Cubans, inside and beyond the Island, understand as “the Revolution,” is essential to achieving their objectives.
In the most recent escalation of this hostility – which began more than six decades ago and has been reinforced by the current administration with almost 200 measures – on November 23, at 6:00 pm, the delivery of remittances from the U.S. to Cuba via Western Union ceased, for which the United States government bears the sole, exclusive responsibility.
Cimex Financial, S.A. (Fincimex), authorized by the Central Bank of Cuba to carry out intermediation operations for the process of transferring funds to Cuban families, published on its official Facebook page that, as a result of measures taken by the U.S. government to damage the Cuban economy, services at Western Union’s 407 payment offices on the island would be suspended.
Thus, safe, official channels to send remittances from the United States to Cuba have been closed to those who cannot travel regularly to offer their loved ones financial support, and those who do not wish to depend on third parties.
This move once again accentuates the magnitude of U.S. efforts to directly impact Cuban families, taking deliberate action in times of economic crisis aggravated by COVID-19 and obsessively tightening the blockade.
In June of this year, Fincimex was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of restricted entities. This includes the ministries of the Armed Forces and the Interior, and the National Revolutionary Police, as well as enterprises, corporations, the Mariel Special Development Zone, and the Mariel and Havana container terminals – making clear the intention to persist in attacks against Cuban institutions that guarantee our national sovereignty, to economically asphyxiate the people.
On October 23, the Treasury Department announced modifications to regulations for the control of Cuban assets, which would prevent remittances to Cuba through U.S. companies with general licenses.
To avoid responsibility for this low blow, the U.S. administration argued that remittances would not be interrupted if Cuba accepted U.S. government demands for a different payment network, to be in place within less than 30 days, by the effective date set for the new OFAC regulations.
But 20 years of equipment, professional preparation and completion of the communications infrastructure to achieve a payment network capable of sustaining the high operational volume of international remittances is not something that can be remodeled overnight – beyond the fact that it is a constitutional right of our people to have economic, diplomatic and political relations in any other state without being obliged to negotiate under threats of aggression or coercion.
Cuba has the sovereign right to make our own decisions without the imposition of conditions.
Fincimex notes, in one of its publications, that its platform features processes that are highly integrated technologically and logistically at a national level. Both of these aspects are well understood by “those who designed the measures” – the company denounces – revealing the clear intention of disrupting remittances. Seeking to mask this obvious objective, “They need to lie to the public, as usual,” Fincimex states.
Without the participation of Fincimex as Western Union’s representative in Cuba, offices would be obliged to close, the enterprise continues, once again highlighting the irrelevance of the “open door” left by the U.S. since “it is widely known that 70% of the network of payment offices is composed of companies included in the list of restricted entities.”
Beginning in 1998, when Fincimex signed a contract with Western Union, remittances were paid in dollars and the level of operations was low, though 2010. That year, the U.S. company was able to acquire a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to pay in legal Cuban currency (CUC), and a high volume of remittances has been maintained since that time.
In October of 2019, when retail sales in freely convertible currency began, demand for these currencies within the population increased, and Fincimex offered all remittance companies the option of directing funds to bank accounts. Western Union was working on this modality, which was to be implemented in January, but the plan was interrupted by the arbitrary White House decision.
It cannot be ignored that the measure could encourage illegal operations, since families may seek informal, irregular means to help their loved ones, exposing themselves to the risk of scams, despite the fact that Cuba has remittance services which have proven to be trustworthy and effective.
Fincimex has 25 years of experience securely facilitating remittances, with transparency in its procedures and guaranteeing orderly and safe financial transfers. The company is recognized internationally for the seriousness of its work, playing a key role on behalf of the Cuban financial system.
The use of psychological warfare has been central to U.S. aggression against Cuba, a weapon deployed to promote economic damage and political destabilization. The attack on remittances is just one more example.
In the 1960s, the United States sowed terror with Operation Peter Pan. As a result, more than 14,000 children were taken away from their parents. In the eyes of U.S. citizens, and the world, these were sad stories of Cubans “fleeing repression,” when in reality families were victimized in one of the most painful chapters of the inhumane U.S. war against Cuba.
Before the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, U.S. companies owned nearly 40% of Cuban sugarcane plantations, 90% of mines, 80% of service providers… and practically the entire oil industry. They supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports. These frustrated interests have motivated their position of ruthless hatred.
The constant stream of lies has not stopped. The fabricated “acoustic attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Havana were debunked by scientists and the FBI, after months of investigations and four trips to the island. Day after day, the Trump administration continues its internationally rejected campaign accusing Cuba of “enslaving” doctors serving on our medical collaboration and solidarity missions around the world.
The constant encouragement of subversion has been a regular feature of U.S. efforts to force surrender on the Cuban people, with millions allocated to provoke political destabilization, while fiercely applying economic, commercial and financial measures that last year cost the Cuban economy losses of more than 5 billion dollars, with no respite in the context of the pandemic, a reality that Cuba has denounced in the United Nations, where an end to the blockade is supported by the vast majority of the world’s nations.
Among the many distortions used in attempts to justify the move to prevent the delivery of remittances from the United States through Western Union, is that Cuba lives off remittances. In fact, data from the World Bank shows that Cuba is not among the top ten countries with the greatest volume in Latin America and the Caribbean. This ranking includes Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and Brazil, but not Cuba.
Recent research by the Center for U.S. and Hemispheric Studies at the University of Havana confirms that, between 2001 and 2020, the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Cuba suggests a pattern of intensified hostile actions during election and pre-election periods. The highest number of anti-Cuban regulations adopted was noted in the pre-election year of 2019, when new sanctions were imposed every month, except January, and on several occasions, more than one sanction per month was adopted.
This increase in regulatory attacks in 2019 followed the defeat of the Republican Party in the 2018 mid-term elections, which changed the composition of Congress and, perhaps more importantly, seemed to put Donald Trump’s re-election at risk. Trump’s political machine seems to have interpreted this loss as requiring an even more aggressive stance against Cuba, for the President to win Florida in the November elections of 2020.
In fact, in an interview which took place before this year’s elections, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s director for the United States, Carlos Fernandez de Cossío, told Granma that surveys conducted in the U.S. in recent years show that, among Cuban-American voters, the issue of relations with Cuba was not as important as several others, including health, employment, citizen security and housing. It is hard to believe that most Cubans would support a campaign committed to disrupting relations with their families.
Taken from: www.granma.cu
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