Western Union branch in the Beidado District of Havana, the capital of Cuba, 56-year-old Cuban Fay Nuñez took a remittance from his family from Miami, United States.
In eight hours, her account will no longer receive money. At 6 p.m. on the same day, the United States officially stopped Western Union’s business in ancient times.
“My sister remits me $50 a month, and we have to think of other ways in the future.” Núñez said helplessly.
Núñez works at a bus terminal in Havana and earns about $20 a month. In her view, the “unfair” sanctions imposed by the U.S. government “ultimately hurt the Cuban people”.
Nearly 2 million Cuban immigrants live in the United States, and a large number of remittances are sent from the United States to Cuba every year. Western Union is the main channel for remittances from the United States and even overseas to Cuba. Since entering the Cuban market in 1999, Western Union has opened more than 400 service outlets in the local area, covering almost all urban areas in the country.
In June this year, the United States added Finci Mex, a Cuban financial institution that accepts Western Union’s operations in Cuba, on the grounds that it has a military background.
The Central Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, Grama, pointed out that the closure of Western Union means that the “safest channel” for remittances from the United States to Cuba has been cut off.
“The sanctions of the United States not only affect our national economy, but also hurt countless families like us who need remittances to live.” Marica Gonzalez, a 64-year-old retired worker, said that the remittance she received was mainly used to repair the house.
“Remittances are normal acts of help between families and have nothing to do with politics.” Gonzalez said her family in the U.S. has begun to look for other ways to help her continue, but she is worried that the family will bear more costs and risks for it.
What makes the Cuban people even more angry is that during the coronavirus epidemic, the daily life of the Cuban people has been greatly affected, and the United States also took the opportunity to fall into the well, causing many Cubans to suddenly cut off important economic resources.
Alexis Hernández, 61, Cuban, works in a private restaurant. His family in the United States has been sending money to him through Western Union. Although the amount is not high, it can help him buy living materials and replace the necessary household appliances.
“The remittance of overseas Chinese is family affection and the help given to us by overseas relatives. Why does the U.S. government stop it?” Hernandez asked.
Hernandez said that due to the epidemic, “the restaurant I work is unable to operate normally, my income is affected, and overseas families cannot return to Cuba to visit their families, nor can they send friends to bring back money. At this time, remittances play a greater role.”
The United States has imposed sanctions on Cuba for nearly 60 years. Since 2019 alone, the Trump administration has taken more than 120 sanctions against Cuba. During the epidemic, it has also obstructed Cuba’s purchase of medical supplies from the United States and third countries, and smeared and hindered Cuba’s anti-epidemic cooperation with other countries.
Cuban political analyst Iloel Sanchez believes that the closure of Western Union is another manifestation of the extreme pressure on Cuba by the United States. The series of sanctions imposed by the United States against Cuba are aimed at creating shortages and difficulties in the daily life of the Cuban people, thus triggering social panic and political unrest.
Hernández said that he believed that the attempt of the United States to suppress Cuba would eventually fail.” Now the epidemic is slowly improving. Cuba has opened the airport, foreign tourists will visit Cuba one after another, and the business of restaurants will also improve, so that the income will be guaranteed.