TLP: Sending Money to Cuba and Feeling 'Super Good' About It
As Cubans continue to wait out Fidel — 51 years and counting — those who receive cash from the United States are getting a bonus, thanks to a change in currency regulations.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has licensed Western Union to pay out remittances in Cuban currency instead of U.S. dollars, avoiding a local 10 percent surcharge on the greenback.Sure, it's only a small step. But it could mean that we're that much closer to something really super good: ¡ cigarros cubanos legales !
Previously, U.S. restrictions forced Western Union, the principal company allowed to send cash transfers from the United States, to make payouts in dollars.
... The change helps cash-strapped Cubans by cutting their government's take from remittances, said Cuba expert Phil Peters, at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute.
"Since Cuba imposes a 10 percent surcharge on dollar cash exchanges, and since the (George W.) Bush administration prohibited Western Union from providing remittances in Cuban currency, the Cubans who received remittances lost ten percent of their money when they converted it to Cuban pesos," Peters said.
"By allowing Western Union to pay out the remittances in Cuban currency, there is no more 10 percent loss in purchasing power," he said.
At a Havana Western Union office, Cubans, often hard pressed to make ends meet, were thrilled over their unexpected holiday bonus.
"This is fabulous," Laudelina Milanes said. "It is a bit more money for us, and our families over there also feel super good."