Western Union may resume sending remittances to Cuba

western union office cuba

It appears that Western Union is set to resume sending remittances to Cuba.

The company’s app has reinstated the option to send money to the island, media outlet Proyecto Inventario noted on Twitter.

On Western Union’s website, the only remittance destination to Cuba available is the Guantanamo Naval Base, a U.S.-occupied territory in Cuba.

Western Union suspended its services in Cuba in November 2020 due to the Trump administration’s sanctions, which included a ban on operating with Fincimex, its counterpart in Cuba, controlled by the Cuban military.

The prestigious U.S. company was forced to close its network of 407 branches covering all of Cuba.

Before the closure, it was estimated that half of Miami-Dade County’s Cuban-Americans sent remittances to Cuba regularly through Western Union, amounting to more than 240,000 individual transfers a month. That’s a lot of money.

Remittances are a mainstay for the livelihood of much of the Cuban population, even those who do not receive money from abroad. The blow to remittances right near the end of the pandemic was an attempted economic blow that was intended to be devastating.

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Western Union has made no official announcement about the resumption of money transfers to Cuba either on its blog or on its social media, but some users of Western Union’s mobile app have confirmed that the “Cuba” option is now available, or at least listed.

Remittance recipients in Cuba will be able to receive the money in bank accounts at the main Cuban banks: Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA), Banco de Crédito y Comercio (BANDEC) and Banco Metropolitano (Banmet).

The sender will be able to choose among all Cuban provinces and will be required to provide the recipient’s identity document, date of birth and address.

The multi-billion dollar remittance business to Cuba was affected by additional sanctions imposed during the Donald Trump administration. There is speculation that the U.S. is sitting at the negotiating table and we could be facing a new period of détente.

To circumvent U.S. sanctions, the Cuban government created Orbit S.A. to replace the punished Fincimex S.A., managed by the Cuban military.

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