Cuba temporarily suspends cash deposits in dollars, cites obstacles to embargo

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Cuba announced Thursday that the country’s banks will temporarily stop accepting dollar cash deposits from June 21.

The move, the country’s central bank said, was due to US sanctions and “extreme” economic measures that restrict the use of US currency abroad.

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“In view of the obstacles that the US embargo creates for the domestic banking system to deposit US dollars collected in the country abroad, a decision has been made to temporarily suspend deposits of US banknotes in the banking and financial system of Cuba, ”the bank said. said in a statement shared during a roundtable discussion with central bank executives broadcast on state television.

Central Bank Vice President Yamilié Berra Cires spoke of the loss of partnerships with foreign banks, including 24 that have ceased operations with Cuba since the start of former President Trump’s administration.

In addition, Berra Cires said that more than 190 actions by around 95 foreign banks have been reported against Cuban banks.

“It is increasingly difficult for Cuba to find international banking or financial institutions willing to receive, convert or process US currency into cash,” the bank said in the statement.

The central bank said it will still accept transfers without “limitations” and that account holders will still be able to withdraw money from dollar accounts.

Deposits in other currencies will also be accepted.

There was no indication of the exact length of the temporary suspension, although the statement said its duration would depend on the removal of financial restrictions.

“We had no choice but to take this measure, which we explain to the Round Table, as we always do when it is a measure that affects the people, who will understand that there is no other option, “said the Minister-President of the Central Bank, Marta Sabina Wilson González, said.

The move came before the Cuban government presented its annual resolution to end the long-standing US trade embargo to the United Nations General Assembly.

The country had implemented a 10% tax on the dollar for many years, which it lifted in July 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Miami Herald reported on Friday that the U.S. dollar on Cuba’s black market climbed to around 70 Cuban pesos – an amount nearly three times the exchange rate.

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This came after the country reportedly began opening “dollar stores” selling hard currency in 2019 and saw a drop in remittances and tourism.

While President Biden has said he will reverse some of Trump’s measures on Cuba during his election campaign, the US government has said policy change is not a top priority.

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