Thursday, December 9

Biden orders the review of remittances to Cuba

Washington (CNN) — US President Joe Biden has directed his administration to examine remittances to Cuba in the wake of protests on the island to determine ways that US residents can send money to the country, a senior official told CNN. of the administration.

“Under the leadership of President Biden, the United States is actively seeking measures that will support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime accountable,” the official said.

The “Remittances Working Group” will work to “identify the most effective way to get remittances directly to the Cuban people,” the official said.

Expert: Biden will fulfill his promise to approach Cuba 1:44

Biden had said last week that he believed that under the current circumstances, remittances – the practice of Americans transferring money to their Cuban relatives – would end up in the hands of the regime. But since then he has faced pressure to show solidarity with the protesters.

The Cuban government controls the financial sector on the island and all communications. Avoiding the government to send money or improve Internet access is a challenge that other US administrations have tried and failed to overcome.

But the issue has grown in urgency in recent days along with the largest protests on the island in decades. Thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country this month to protest chronic shortages of basic goods, restrictions on civil liberties and the government’s handling of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, marking the most significant unrest in decades.

The State Department is also reviewing its plans to strengthen staffing at the US Embassy in Havana “to facilitate diplomatic, consular and civil society participation, and an adequate security posture,” the official said.

The White House is exploring the possibility of punishing “Cuban officials responsible for violence, repression and human rights violations against peaceful protesters in Cuba,” the official said. The United States “will intensify diplomatic engagement with regional and international partners to support the aspirations of the Cuban people.”

Is it possible to provide internet to Cuba? 2:11

Last week, Biden said he was investigating the possibility of restoring Internet access in Cuba. The official said Monday that the United States “will work closely with the private sector and the United States Congress to identify viable options to make the Internet more accessible to the Cuban people.”

Since Biden’s arrival in office, Cuba’s policies have been under review.

Under the Obama administration, Cuba oversaw the reopening of embassies and the relaxation of many restrictions in place since the embargo. But the Trump administration enacted some of the toughest economic measures against Cuba in decades, reinstated travel restrictions and, before leaving office, named Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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