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    If Trump Ends Our Remittances?

    If Trump Ends Our Remittances? / Iván García

    Ivan Garcia, 8 July 2017 — Without too much caution, the CUPET tanker
    truck painted green and white begins to deposit fuel in the underground
    basement of a gas station located at the intersection of Calle San
    Miguel and Mayía Rodríguez, just in front of Villa Marista, headquarters
    of State Security, in the quiet Sevillano neighborhood, south of Havana.

    The gas station, with four pumps, belongs to the Ministry of the
    Interior and all its workers, even civilians, are part of the military
    staff. “To start working in a military center or company, be it FAR
    (Revolutionary Armed Forces) or MININT (Ministry of the Interior),
    besides investigating you in your neighborhood and demanding certain
    qualities, you have to be a member of the Party or the UJC (Union of
    Young Communists),” says one employee, who adds:

    “But things have relaxed and not all those working in military companies
    are 100 percent revolutionary. And like most jobs in Cuba, there are
    those who make money stealing fuel, have family in the United States and
    only support the government in appearances.”

    Let’s call him Miguel. He is a heavy drinker of beer and a devotee of
    Santeria.

    “I worked at the gas station six years ago. It is true that they ask for
    loyalty to the system and you have to participate in the May Day marches
    so as not to stand out. But it is not as rigorous as three decades ago,
    according to the older ones, when you could not have religious beliefs
    or family in yuma (the USA). I do not care about politics, I’m a
    vacilator. I have two sons in Miami, and although I look for my
    shillings here, if Trump cuts off the remittances to those of us who
    work in military companies, Shangó will tell me what to do,” he says and
    laughs.

    If there is something that worries many Cubans it is the issue of family
    remittances. When the Berlin Wall collapsed and the blank check of the
    former USSR was canceled, Fidel Castro’s Cuba entered a spiraling
    economic crisis that 28 years later it still has not been able to overcome.

    Inflation roughly hits the workers and retirees with a worthless and
    devalued currency, barely enough to buy a few roots and fruits and to
    pay the bills for the telephone, water and electricity.

    Although the tropical autocracy does not reveal statistics on the amount
    of remittances received in Cuba, experts say that the figures fluctuate
    between 2.5 and 3 billion dollars annually. Probably more.

    Foreign exchange transactions of relatives and friends living abroad,
    particularly in the United States, are the fundamental support of
    thousands of Cuban families. It is the second national industry and
    there is a strong interest in managing that hard currency.

    “Since the late 1970s, Fidel Castro understood the usefulness of
    controlling the shipments of dollars from the so-called gusanos
    (’worms,’ as those who left were called) to their families. When he
    allowed the trips of the Cuban Community to the Island, the Ministry of
    the Interior (MININT) had already mounted an entire industry to capture
    those dollars.

    “Look, you can not be naive. In Cuba, whenever foreign exchange comes
    in, the companies that manage it are military, or the Council of State,
    like Palco. That money is the oxygen of the regime. And they use it to
    buy equipment, motorcycles and cars for the G-2 officials who repress
    the opponents and to construct hotels, rather than to acquire medicines
    for children with cancer. And since there is no transparency, they can
    open a two or three million dollar account in a tax haven,” says an
    economist.

    The dissection of the problem carried out by the openly anti-Castro
    exile and different administrations of the White House is correct. The
    problem is to find a formula for its application so that the stream of
    dollars does not reach the coffers of the regime.

    “The only way for the government not to collect dollars circulating in
    Cuba, would be Trump completely prohibiting transfers of money. It’s the
    only way to fuck them. I do not think there is another. But using money
    as a weapon of blackmail to make people demand their rights, I find
    deplorable. I also have the rope around my neck. I want democratic
    changes, better salaries, and I have no relatives in Miami. But I do not
    have the balls to go out in the street and demand them,” says an
    engineer who works at a military construction company.

    Twenty years ago, on June 27, 1997, the Internal Dissident Working Group
    launched La Patria es de Todos (The Nation Belongs to Everyone), a
    document that raised rumors within the opposition itself. Economist
    Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, along with the late Félix Antonio Bonne
    Carcassés, Vladimiro Roca Antúnez and lawyer René Gómez Manzano, tried
    to get those Cubans who received dollars to commit to not participate in
    government activities or vote in the elections, all of them voluntary.

    It is true that the double standards of a large segment of Cubans upset
    the human rights activists. With total indifference, in the morning they
    can participate in an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White and
    in the afternoon they connect to the internet so that a family member
    expedites the paperwork for them to emigrant or recharges their mobile
    phone account.

    This hypocrisy is repulsive. But these people are not repressive. Like
    millions of citizens on the island, they are victims of a
    dictatorship. In totalitarian societies, even the family estate is
    perverted.

    In Stalin’s USSR a ’young pioneer’ was considered a here for denouncing
    the counterrevolutionary attitude of his parents. There was a stage in
    Cuba where a convinced Fidelista could not befriend a ’worm’, or have
    anything to do with a relative who had left the country or receive money
    from abroad.

    I understand journalists like Omar Montenegro, of Radio Martí, who in a
    radio debate on the subject, said that measures such as these can at
    least serve to raise awareness of people who have turned faking it into
    a lifestyle. But beyond whether regulation could be effective in the
    moral order, in practice it would be a chaos for any federal agency of
    the United States.

    And, as much frustration as those of us who aspire to a democratic Cuba
    may have, we can not be like them. It has rained a lot since then. The
    ideals of those who defend Fidel Castro’s revolution have been
    prostituted. Today, relatives of senior military and government
    officials have left for the United States. And the elite of the olive
    green bourgeoisie that lives on the island likes to play golf, drink
    Jack Daniel’s and wear name-brand clothes.

    If Donald Trump applies the control of remittances to people working in
    GAESA or other military enterprises, it would affect more than one
    million workers engaged in these capitalist business of the regime,
    people who are as much victims of the dictatorship as the rest of the
    citizenship.

    The colonels and generals who changed their hot uniforms for white
    guayaberas and the ministers and high officials, do not need to receive
    remittances. Without financial controls or public audits, they manage
    the state coffers at will. One day we will know how much they have
    stolen in the almost sixty years they have been governing.

    Source: If Trump Ends Our Remittances? / Iván García – Translating Cuba
    translatingcuba.com/if-trump-ends-our-remittances-ivn-garca/

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