The money that never arrives in Cuba

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      Fincimex issued a statement on August 27, 2021, announcing delays in the delivery of remittances that arrive in Cuba from third countries due to the difficulty of finding financial institutions willing to authorize operations. The inclusion of this company in the list of restricted entities by the U.S. Treasury Department “continues to generate fears in the international banking sector about accepting operations directed to… [Fincimex] and tendencies to limit the scope of these transactions,” said the Fincimex statement.

      The U.S. policy relating to remittances goes against all logic. Remittances have come to the rescue of families affected by the coronavirus all over the world. According to the World Bank, money sent by migrants to their families in “low- and middle-income countries surpassed the sum of FDI [foreign direct investment] ($259 billion) and overseas development assistance ($179 billion) in 2020.” For example, remittances grew historically in Mexico in the first six months of 2021, as La Jornada recently reported. They reached $23.6 million, which is 22 percent more than the remittances received during the same period in 2020.

      “As COVID-19 still devastates families around the world, remittances continue to provide a critical lifeline for the poor and vulnerable,” said Michal Rutkowski, global director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank. The regular remittances that poor Latin American migrants send to their families have become vital to many of the region’s economies. Generally, it’s the working poor who send small sums of money, sometimes up to eight times a year, usually sending more money than they earn during the year. For years, remittances have been one of Mexico’s main sources of foreign exchange, and remittances form close to or more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product of Honduras, El Salvador and other countries in Central America. They protect millions of people. But why do migrants do it? Why do they make sacrifices and send money back to their home countries? Surveys say that the explanation for this grand gesture of solidarity, with enormous macroeconomic impact, lies above all in supporting the institution of family. Migrants send money out of moral inspiration and loyalty to their parents, siblings, children, and nieces and nephews.

      In a 2006 study on remittances and their imprint on the Cuban family, researcher Edel Fresneda Camacho recognized that this type of aid is not intended for productive investment. “It constitutes an important source of income for the recipient families, [for] their consumption and saving capacity, and implies an improvement in living conditions,” which in the case of Cuba includes the possibility of investing in a small private business.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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