As announced last May 16, the U.S. Government began to relax its rules and regulations to allow compliance with measures reported as a change in Cuba policy.
As of this Thursday, June 9, 2022, the $1,000 quarterly limit on remittances is eliminated, according to the Treasury Department and its Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The Cuban Assets Control Regulations have been modified and from now on not only family remittances to Cuban citizens who are close relatives are allowed, but also remittance donations to other Cuban citizens and to independent organizations.
The only condition is that these remittances do not involve any entity or sub-entity identified on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List, or are government officials or militants of the Communist Party of Cuba, all categories vetoed by the United States, or relatives of them.
“Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who are 18 years of age or older are authorized to make remittances to Cuban nationals who are close relatives, and provided that the remittances are not made for immigration purposes,” the provision states.
Remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba are also authorized from now on, “including remittances that promote the development of private businesses and the exploitation of economic activity in the non-state sector by self-employed workers”.
For this concept may receive remittances self-employed workers who are owners or employees of a small private business or a sole proprietorship, including restaurants, cabs and private homes; the independent contractor or consultant; the small farmer who owns his own land or in usufruct who cultivates state-owned land to sell his products on the open market.
“This general license also authorizes persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to make remittances to pro-democracy groups and civil society groups in Cuba, and to members of such groups or organizations, to support ‘humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba that are designed to directly benefit the Cuban people and to support the Cuban people through activities of recognized human rights organizations, independent organizations designed to promote a rapid and peaceful transition to democracy, and activities of individuals and nongovernmental organizations that promote independent activity designed to strengthen civil society,'” the document states.
It also authorizes remittances to religious organizations in Cuba in support of religious activities, provided that the remittances do not come from a blocked source and that the sender, if an individual, is 18 years of age or older; to students in Cuba under an educational license; and up to two one-time remittances of $1,000 per beneficiary for the purpose of covering expenses associated with emigration from Cuba to the United States.
Let us recall that, until November 2020, remittances from the United States were operated by the Western Union company in collaboration with the Cuban Fincimex.
However, in the context of the tightening of sanctions, in October 2020 Donald Trump cancelled Western Union’s permission to operate in Cuba and included Fincimex in the list of restricted companies because it was considered part of a conglomerate administered and managed by the Cuban military.
Many Cubans and their families in the United States request that remittances be delivered directly to them in the currency of the sender and recipient’s choice.
Many are concerned that remittances will begin to arrive in the form of freely convertible currency (LCM) and that they can only be used in stores in this currency and cannot be withdrawn in foreign currency at banks, due to the Cuban government’s lack of liquidity.
Critics of this measure criticize that from now on more money coming from Cubans living in the United States may reach the hands of the Government and its financial entities, which may represent, they say, an oxygen balloon for the regime in Havana.
However, most agree that limiting the amount of remittances that can be sent every three months is an arbitrary measure that also violates the right of families to help themselves economically.
Donald Trump’s administration put an end to the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States that occurred during the end of Barack Obama’s presidency (2009-2017).
Trump implemented more than 200 measures aimed at putting economic pressure on Cuba to bring about regime change. Trump’s policy consisted of tightening the U.S. economic embargo that has weighed on Cuba since 1962.
During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to lift those measures and resume the rapprochement with Havana, which marked the last moments of Obama’s presidency.
However, it was not until May 2022 that the current U.S. administration officially pronounced itself on the matter, in an announcement of a relaxation of sanctions that had wide repercussions both outside and inside Cuba.
Biden said in May that the measures seek to support the Cuban people, as well as provide them with tools to combat the “oppression of the Cuban government” by offering the people greater economic opportunities.