Cryptocurrencies are becoming a vital lifeline for Cubans hit by COVID and a trade embargo

HAVANA, April 6th  (AP) Sixty years on from President John F Kennedy’s decision to impose sanctions on Cuba, the blockade – or el bloqueo as it’s known on the island – still stands.

For a brief period under the Obama administration, relations between the US and the Caribbean state thawed only to be further tightened of late during the Trump era. The hardening of the trade embargo, in the midst of a pandemic that has decimated the global economy, has been the most difficult for Cubans to swallow.

“The opportunistic tightening of the blockade during the Trump government, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, makes it even more genocidal,” Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said last month at a blockade protest in Havana.

But a solution to the combined economic hardships of the pandemic and blockade may be at hand.

Residents on the island are participating in the world of cryptocurrencies and electronic wallets as a practical solution to the financial sanctions imposed by the United States and the difficulties brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I need cryptocurrencies’

Neither the poor internet connectivity on the island nor its technological backwardness has prevented operations like getting remittances, paying bills, or accessing capital with digital currencies from becoming increasingly popular.

Due to the restrictions that Cubans have, they do not have the possibility of accessing traditional means of payments, such as credit cards.