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  • House Rues Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA. December 17, 2019.

    House Rues Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA. December 17, 2019. | Photo: EFE/EPA/POOL/Anna Moneymaker

Published 19 November 2020
Opinion

Jim McGovern and Elliot Engel, high-ranking House Democrats, released a statement Thursday condemning the Trump administration's recent restrictions on sending remittances to Cuba. 

The U.S. House of Representatives Chair of the House Rules Committee, James (Jim) P. McGovern, and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Elliot Engel, issued a joint statement Thursday denouncing the Trump Administration's recently announced measures severely restricting the ability of Cubans in the United States from sending remittances to their families in Cuba through Western Union.

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In their statement, the lawmakers said: “We condemn the recently announced steps by the Treasury Department that will result in an effective halt to remittances to Cuba. The Treasury Department’s decision to prohibit U.S. remittance senders from using the most widely used financial intermediary in Cuba will disrupt remittance flows to families and further restrict support for the emerging private sector on the island."

McGovern, a longtime supporter, and advocate for Cuba, continued by deconstructing the Treasury Department's myths to justify the destructive measures.

“Rather than supporting the Cuban people and ensuring Cuban-Americans have the right to support loved ones on the island, this inhumane policy will deprive ordinary Cubans of basic resources. While purportedly intended to deny Cuba’s military access to funds, this decision will hurt the Cuban people most," he stated.

Referring to the socio-economic difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressman wrote, "By further closing channels through which the Cuban people can receive remittances, this will limit the ways Cuban-Americans may support their families during these difficult times."

 

The statement continues by highlighting the significance of remittances to Cuban families and the economy at large, by some estimates the third-largest source of foreign currency in Cuba: “This measure is causing Western Union, a major remittance sender, to end operations in Cuba later this month. Some 700,000 Cubans in the U.S. send remittances to Cuba each year, totaling $1.5 billion a year."

"Shutting off Cubans’ access to this crucial lifeline in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis is cruel, heartless, and frankly ineffective. While the Trump administration argues that it supports the Cuban people, its policies are having the opposite effect," the House leaders assured.

In closing, McGovern and Engels made a call to action to the current administration, signaling their hopes for policy change during the next administration as well: “We call on the Administration to reverse course, and to expand, rather than further contract, the channels of contact and support between the Cuban people and their families and loved ones in the United States,” they concluded.

 
 

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