Cuban officials and Communist Party members can now get U.S. remittances
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
With little fanfare, the U.S. government recently amended regulations to
allow Cuban government officials and members of the Communist Party to
benefit from the softening of sanctions, including receiving cash
remittances and other perks.
The new beneficiaries include members of the Cuban Ministry of the
Interior (MININT), the Central Committee of the Communist Party (PCC)
and other branches of the Cuban government.
The change is part of the new round of regulations announced last week
by the Obama administration. Along with measures that attracted
widespread attention — such as the removal of the restrictions on the
purchase of rum and tobacco by American travelers — this more discreet
provision debunks a long-standing policy of prohibiting U.S.
transactions with most members of the Cuban government, its political
organizations and defense system.
As the updated Cuban Assets Control Regulations now stand, the
prohibitions remain only for the members of the Politburo of the PCC,
members of the Council of Ministers and high-ranking officials in the
Cuban armed forces (FAR).
The category of "prohibited members" of the Cuban government and the
Communist Party previously included members of MININT; the PCC
Secretaries and members of its Central Committee; members of Parliament;
the Supreme Court; state media editors; deputy ministers and mid-level
officials within the ministries; directors of companies and other state
institutions; Secretaries of the Confederation of Cuban Workers; and
local chiefs of the Defense Committees of the Revolution (CDR).
These officials can now receive remittances without limits and take
advantage of other benefits such as having their mobile phone accounts
recharged from the U.S.
MININT has under its jurisdiction the police, the Department of State
Security and the Directorate for Immigration and Naturalization, among
other agencies. The Central Committee of the Communist Party, on the
other hand, controls all state institutions, including the media.
The U.S. government has begun a low-key cooperation with MININT, which
has been present in several official dialogues, including one that took
place in Miami in February of this year. Members of this ministry also
visited U.S. military installations in Key West in March.
As part of the efforts to normalize relations, the U.S. removed Cuba
from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Some Cuban companies
were also eliminated from the list of entities that are blocked by the
Critics of the Obama policy toward Cuba immediately questioned the measure.
"The Obama administration has just opened the door for the overwhelming
majority of Castro regime officials to take advantage of the sanctions
relief that was purportedly aimed to support the Cuban people and, more
specifically, for Cuba's independent entrepreneurs," Mauricio
Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy political action
committee that seeks to maintain the embargo, said in a scathing statement.
Claver-Carone added that "neighborhood repressors," members of "its
puppet legislature, secret police" and intelligence officials can "enjoy
unlimited remittances, gift parcels, U-turn banking transactions,
communication devices and even employ U.S.-based internet-related services."
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Source: Cuban officials and Communist Party members can now get U.S.
remittances and more | In Cuba Today -