Trump's latest "tantrum" leaves thousands of Cubans unable to send money to their families
Western Union, which moves hundreds of millions of dollars a year between the two countries, is looking for a solution, but many citizens will have to manage for 30 days.
The real estate mogul and Republican President Donald Trump was a perfect storm for Cuba. Even as his power fades, the overwhelming effects of his aggressive foreign policies can still be felt on the island. A week before the election, as part of a larger strategy, he included Fincimex, a subsidiary of Western Union, as part of a restricted list because it collaborates with the Cuban military corporation GAESA.
As a result, thousands of Cubans in the U.S. can no longer send the money to their families on the island — something that is extremely common and even part of the economy of many of these family alliances. Western Union, which sends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, has sought any possible solution during the next 30 days, but it seems the population is seeking to resign itself to the search for new loopholes in the face of political punishment by Republicans against exiles and immigrants.
According to the Havana Consulting Group firm, the specific amount was up to $3.6 billion and accounted for more than the sum of nickel, sugar, and tobacco exports from the country. Up to 95% of the 2 million Cuban immigrants send an average of between $180 and $220.
Cuba experienced a boom in good relations and tourism that ended in 2016 with the arrival of Trump to power and a rethinking of the geopolitical relationship in military terms. He has severely sanctioned Venezuela and indirectly forced Cuba to seek new sources of investment while limiting the possibilities of tourist visits from abroad. Since Monday, when the list was part of more than 200 Republican measures, they have not been able to send money to their country. Western Union was one of the only providers that offered the transfer service.
With respect to the electoral defeat and the now confirmed willingness to change executives, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel came out to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory and express his enthusiasm for the possibility of new guidelines in the relationship between both countries.
But the problem of the money flow is not going to be resolved immediately, since it is already complicated under normal conditions to make legislative changes when the leadership changed. It's much more so when the leadership has been playing golf for weeks. John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said he considered it "unlikely that Biden will restore Western Union's operations because Fincimez is already blacklisted by the Treasury Department.” In that case, maybe the famous invisible hand of the market is capable of solving the mess?