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Cuba and Money
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 By: Juan Paxety
Money transfers to Cuba
There's an interesting,though somewhat shallow, article in the Orlando Sentinel on the topic of Cuban-Americans sending money to relatives in Cuba. The article is a bit different than newspaper fare because it's written by Paolo Spandoni, a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida.
Spandoni examines the effect of the Bush administration attempts to limit fund transfers to people living in Cuba. He concludes Cuban-Americans have figured out how to get around the ban - by using "mules" who carry cash in their luggage. But modern electronics also pay a role:
Remittances to Cuba are also facilitated by the emergence of third-country-based money-transfer services that allow funds to be transmitted to the island from the United States through the Internet. As transactions are routed via foreign banks, it is extremely difficult for U.S. authorities to exercise effective control. For instance, funds transferred to Cuba via Canada-based Transcard (used by an ever-increasing number of Havana residents) are credited to secure bank accounts in Canada. The recent proliferation of similar businesses located in Europe, such as Spain and Italy-based SerCuba and Switzerland-based AWS Technologies, further complicates the U.S. attempt to curtail remittances to Cuba.
Who are the ever-increasing number of Havana residents who can use the Transcard? Can any Cuban get one? That seems doubtful, and with recent stories about the lack of Internet access to ordinary citizens, how would one access the account? Or, are the holders of the cards Cuban officials and other favored parties - and are they salting away money in anticipation of the fall of fidel?