On Friday, the Trump administration published new limits on remittances to Cuba in a move to harden U.S. sanctions against the Island.
Cuban-Americans will now be limited to sending $1,000 every quarter of the year. Transfers will no longer be allowed to non-family members.
However the policy allows money to be sent to owners of private businesses such as restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, and other businesses.
Remittances will continue to be permitted to NGOs that are hostile to the government.
In addition, families and close relatives of ‘prohibited government officials’, or ‘prohibited members of the Communist Party of Cuba,” can no longer receive remittances.
There are also new restrictions on U-turn transactions, which consist of transfers of funds carried out through a US bank, but which do not originate or are destined for Cuba, and in which neither the issuer nor the recipient is subject to U.S. jurisdiction. With the new rule, the U.S. banking institutions can reject these transactions.
The changes will take effect on October 9.
U.S. remittances to Cuba are estimated at several billion dollars per year since former President Barack Obama began easing restrictions on them. Remittances, like any other country whose citizens receive them, are an important contribution to the economy.
Observers also say the new limits are an election strategy in an effort to gain the Cuban American vote in the key swing state of Florida in the upcoming presidential election.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Through these regulatory amendments, Treasury is denying Cuba access to buy hard currency, and we are curbing the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba.”
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter he strongly rejected the measures aimed at strengthening the “economic siege against Cuba.”
“The opportunistic attempts to divide Cubans will fail,” he said.
The impact of the new regulations will hurt most the Cubans who do not have family in the U.S.