Since anti-government demonstrations took place in Cuba, the US has thrown its support behind the protesters, and President Biden has said he “stands” with the Cuban people. But on Thursday, Biden said he would not ease restrictions on remittances to Cuba imposed by the Trump administration.
Sanctions imposed by the Trump administration caused Western Union to shut down its money-sending service to Cuba last November, making it more difficult for Cuban-Americans to send funds to their families.
“There are a number of things that we would consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but it would require different circumstances or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government,” Biden said on Friday.
“For example, the ability to send remittances back to Cuba. I would not do that now because of the fact it’s highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks,” he said.
Whatever fee the Cuban government collects of the remittances sent from the US is worth it to the hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans who used to send them. Before the restrictions, about 700,000 people in the US sent remittances to Cuba annually, and Western Union transferred between $900 million to $1.5 billion to the country each year.
As a candidate, President Biden vowed to ease sanctions on Cuba reimposed by the Trump administration. But so far, he has not delivered on the campaign promise. In June, the US and Israel were the only two countries that voted against ending the embargo at the UN General Assembly.