Remittances from Cuban exiles in the United States to family members still living on the island nation plummeted in 2023 to their lowest levels in over a decade, according to a new report from the Miami-based think tank Cuba Siglo 21.
Rather than sending money back to Cuba, the exile community focused their funds on supporting the over 560,000 Cubans who fled the country in 2023, primarily heading to the United States.
Cuba Siglo 21 estimates that exiles spent between $1.8-2.2 billion on application fees, travel costs, and basic needs for migrants.
Remittances Drop 46% Compared to Pre-Pandemic Levels
In 2023, remittances to Cuba totaled just under $1.973 billion. This represents a 3.31% drop compared to 2022, and a staggering 46% decline from the $3.716 billion sent home in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
According to the report’s author, Emilio Morales, the drop in remittances signals a “lack of trust in domestic policies” and a “rejection of the regime’s abuse” by exiles.
The regime’s promotion of small private businesses aimed at attracting Cuban-American investment has largely failed.
US Government Eases Restrictions, But Remittances Keep Falling
Despite the Biden administration easing restrictions on remittance channels like Western Union and Orbit S.A., remittances continued their downward trajectory. The regime’s economic dependence on exiles has hit a dead end, per Morales.Cuba approves 148 new companies, of which only one is state-owned
The massive exodus of young professionals has created a “monumental brain drain” and labor shortage across the island. Morales argues this represents an unprecedented loss of human capital and talent for Cuba.
Inflation Rises as Currency Declines in Value
With remittances falling, Cuba has lost a key source of income. This has accelerated inflation, driving the value of the dollar on the black market up to 280 pesos, far above the official exchange rate of 120 pesos per dollar set by the regime.
In conclusion, the report paints a dire picture for Cuba’s economic stability. The regime’s state-controlled businesses and online stores selling basic goods are unable to replace remittances. As exiles focus on migrant rescue operations rather than investing in Cuba, the economic outlook will remain bleak.