HAVANA, June 14th The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) affirmed this Saturday that it is “maintaining communication” with the embassies that temporarily suspended consular services as a result of monetary measures decreed by the island.
The diplomatic representations of Panama, Mexico, and Ecuador had reported the day before that they were temporarily suspending consular services, following a guideline from the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) that prevented them from exchanging the income from procedures invoiced in Cuban pesos (CUP) into foreign currency.
The general director of Consular Affairs and Cubans Resident Abroad of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Ernesto Soberón, reported this Saturday on Twitter that the MINREX is “maintaining communication with these embassies and Cuban financial institutions, with the aim of resolving this specific situation in the shortest time possible and minimally affecting” Cuban citizens.
The diplomat referred to the aforementioned BCC instruction that came into force the day before and pointed out that embassies and consulates can charge for their consular services “in foreign currency or Cuban pesos,” as they themselves establish.
The document adds, however, and as a novelty, that the embassies and consulates that decide to charge consular services in Cuban pesos may only “deposit the funds in an account in that currency” and indicates that “transfers to accounts in freely convertible currency, or payments abroad” cannot be made “from the accounts in Cuban pesos of the embassies and consulates,” according to a quote from the Spanish EFE news agency.
The BCC instruction also allows consular procedures to be paid by transfer, either with pesos or with foreign currency, excluding the USD.
CRITICISM OF ANNOUNCEMENT
The BCC’s decision has been critically received by some embassies because it prevents them from transferring to their countries the money obtained from consular collections for the services they provide.
The measure is related, according to various sources consulted by EFE, to the difference between the official exchange rate ― one dollar equal to 24 pesos ― and the informal one, where the USD currently costs about 100 CUPS.
The exchange of national to foreign currency at the official rate and these currencies’ departure from the country was disadvantageous for Cuba, these sources added.
Panama, Mexico and Ecuador then announced the decision to suspend their consular services.
At least seven European embassies ― including Italy and Germany ― were already charged for their consular services in euros before the BCC announcement. Spain currently asks for payments to be in CUP and, so far, has not reported any changes.
The freely convertible currency is a virtual currency valid only in Cuba and referenced to currencies, which has circulated in the country since the end of 2019 and is used for marketing in a network of food and appliance stores.