How Remittances Are Funneled in Cuba

Friday, July 29, 2016
Excerpt by Havana-based independent journalist, Osmar Laffita Rojas, in Diario de Cuba:

Military and family remittances, a well-kept secret

Western Union has offices in many of Cuba's retails stores in the 15 provinces and the special municipality of the Isla de la Juventud, which are administrated by the Grupo AdministraciĆ³n Empresarial S.A. (GAESA) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). Thus, the military controls the largest amounts of money coming into Cuba in the form of remittances.

FINCIMEX, the financial institution of the CIMEX Corporation, managed by GAESA, issues magnetic cards to Cuban users for free, like Caribbean Transfers, Ocean Card, Trascard and American International Service, S.A. The holders of these cards, after signing the contract, can receive money from Europe, the United States, Angola and other parts of the world, and draw cash from banks and ATMs throughout Cuba.
In addition, the Postal Service has established offices in Cuba's major cities, dedicated to the collection of money sent mainly from Europe. Many people turn to this service, which actively competes with Western Union.

With the exception of mulas (who smuggle money into the country without declaring it, to deliver it to recipients for the payment of a fee) the Cuban government has control over most of the money sent home by Cubans abroad to their relatives in Cuba.

But the Government never discloses information on these remittances, or the revenues generated by Cuban Americans' trips to the island, even though that money is registered in the books.