CUBA STANDARD — Arguing that U.S. sanctions make it increasingly difficult to unload cash dollars in third countries, Cuba’s Central Bank ordered all banks to stop accepting U.S. currency in cash, effective June 21.
Giving the measure a political dimension, the Cuban government is blaming the Biden administration for keeping Trump-era sanctions that make life harder for regular Cubans.
“Given the obstacles imposed by the U.S. economic blockade for the Cuban banking system to deposit abroad cash U.S. dollars collected in the country, the decision has been made to temporarily stop the acceptance of bills in that currency by the Cuban banking and finance system,” the Banco Central de Cuba said in a statement, adding that the stop will be in effect as long as the United States keeps up pressure on third-country banks to not accept dollars from Cuba.
The unexpected measure forces Cubans — who have increasingly been receiving cash dollars through informal channels after U.S. pressure forced remittance giant Western Union last fall to shut down its network in the island — to change yet again their ways of obtaining much-needed hard currency, and it is expected to further raise prices for scarce goods.
Cuban banks and state-owned retailers will continue to handle dollars via electronic bank deposits and payments, but in order to get these dollars, Cuban families will increasingly be forced to accept bank transfers from abroad, at a cost of high commissions. Families who send cash from the United States will have to change their dollars to euros or other third-country currencies, and recipients will have to change them back into dollars, at a considerable loss.
It also affects U.S. travelers who cannot use their credit cards in Cuba; they will now have to bring cash in third-country currency and then buy a Cuban-issued charge card to buy goods and services sold in hard currency.
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