Wednesday, December 14, 2011

President Obama on Laura Pollan and Cuban American visits

From the President's statement: "I remain committed to supporting civil society in Cuba, including by protecting the ability of Cuban Americans to support their families in Cuba through unrestricted family visits and remittances."


Anonymous said...

Thank you OB!

The linking of human rights with CA family travel is useful (and correct). The right to travel is universal, particularly to visit family. It doesn't matter what the other country is doing, one cannot (and shouldn't) restrict citizens abiltiy to see their family in whatever country on this planet. This is the moral and just position to take.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil,

I wanted to bring to your attention some gross misinformation I am seeing regarding how much Cuba skims off the top when you send money to relatives (from USA).

I bring this up here, as the hardliners are currently using this false figure about remittance taxes in Cuba to support their position on new restriction of CA travel/remittances.

To illustrate, see a recent captial hill cubans post:

In their post, they note" As for remittances, it would cap the amount of money sent to Cuba (of which the Castro regime takes 30% immediately off the top) ..."

This is wrong, I think, for 2 reasons.

1) The exchange 'penalty' in Cuba from US dollars to Cucs was lowered from 20% to 10 % about 1 year ago, right? . Now its the same as all currencies. Thus, they are taking 10% right off the top, not 30%.

2) More importantly in terms of remittances, it seems that , for some reason, Cuba no longer takes 10% off of the money a person sends via western union from USA (at least 2 weeks ago). From experience (wife sending money to mom) and my friends, they don't seem to apply the 10% penalty. So, for example , if you go to western union and send $100 , the relative in Habana gets 97 CUCs when they pick it up 1 day later. If you send 500, they receive like 490 in cucs.

I don't know why this is and have not seen any media stories on it?

It is important in the context of the omnibus bill, as the hardliners are using the false 30% figure as a reason to justify restricting remittances and travel by family.

I guess they can't at least get the facts right, no??? Frankly, such ignorance suggests they really don't converse with anyone who actually goes to Cuba (or cubans on the island), since it is well known that the exchange penalty dropped for US dollars from 20 to 10% some time ago. sorry for the long post.. but important issue . thanks for the great blog!

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience when I sent money recently through Western Union.

However, the Cuban government gets its share of dollar travel expenses and remittances through passport fees (Cubans Americans who reached the US after 1970) or visa fees (Cuban Americans who arrived before 1970) air line ticket fares, airport fees, custom duties and specially margins in the TRD stores.

The Cuban government has a monopoly position in all dollar sales made to the Cuban American community and use it to the hilt.

Prices in the TRD stores are significantly above similar retail outlets in the US.

So who cares whether they take the profit out in currency exchange or in retail sales. Either way it comes out of your hide anyway.

Fidel Castro is a very smart cookie. He is probably the only dictator in the world who has learned to live not only of the population under him but also off his enemies living abroad!

He manages to get his maximum cut out of every dollar in aid we send to our families in the island.