Western Union permanently closes its offices in Cuba after Trump’s veto

An uncertain future is seen for Cubans after the Western Union offices closed for good on Monday.

Cubans rushed on Sunday to search for the last remittances sent by their relatives in the United States before President Donald Trump’s ban on these types of transactions came into force.

“I have family in the United States and my family sends money to me (…) and we Cubans have to choose other measures, many people are going to run out of remittances,” explained the musician, Yoel Oviedo, outside from one of the branches in Havana.

After months of restrictions due to the pandemic, Cuba resumed domestic and international flights on November 15. A decision that could be an oxygen balloon for the Government of Miguel ´Díaz-Canel. However, after this severe setback for the economy, the Trump government adds new restrictions on flights to the island, plus additional restrictions due to the pandemic, which deepen the already precarious situation for Cubans in the middle of the Christmas season.

Cubans, “victims” of the crossfire

For the sociologist Guillermo Grenier, professor at Florida International University (FIU), the great victim is the ordinary Cuban.

“Neither the Cuban government, nor the military, nor large companies will suffer the interruption of the funds of the United States, but rather the real victim is the Cuban people,” he lamented.

But the economist Ricardo Torres is hopeful about opening the island’s airport as an alternative.

“The impact of the brutal measure cannot be underestimated at all, how long has Western Union been operating in Cuba? Even a Western Union culture has already been created, they are widely dispersed, they also have branches throughout the country, they cover almost the entire national territory, but what I believe is that again, without being a perfect substitute, I believe that the opening of the airport and the arrival of the flights will be a relief in that sense because the money will come physically. “

Half of Miami-Dade County’s Cuban-Americans regularly send remittances to Cuba “regardless of their views on the Cuban government,” according to the FIU survey of US policies toward Cuba in South Florida.

Monthly this community in the United States made more than 240,000 individual transfers to the Caribbean country using Western Union.

Biden could reverse the veto

Grenier explained to the Efe Agency that Joe Biden, upon his arrival at the White House, could implement three “immediate” measures that do not entail a “political cost” but the support of the Cuban community: reverse the issue of remittances, ” reinstate the Embassy as it should with consular services “and open flights” everywhere.

The president-elect had shown his rejection of Trump’s action and recalled that Western Union “is the largest remittance service” in Cuba and that its closure “will be painful for Cuban families, especially the oldest and most vulnerable, both on the island as in the United States, “he said in a statement during his campaign.