President Joe Biden orders review of remittances to Cuba

“Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States is actively pursuing measures that will both support the Cuban people and hold the Cuban regime to account,” the official said.

The “Remittances Working Group” will work to “identify the most effective way to deliver remittances directly into the hands of the Cuban people,” the official said.

Biden had said last week that he believed that under the current circumstances, the remittances – the practice of Americans transferring money to their Cuban relatives – would end up in the hands of the regime. But since then he has come under pressure to show solidarity with the protesters.

The Cuban government controls the island’s financial sector and all communications. Bypassing the government to send money or improve Internet access is a challenge other US administrations have tried and failed to overcome.

But the issue has grown increasingly urgent in recent days, alongside the biggest protests on the island in decades. Thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country this month to protest chronic shortages of basic commodities, restrictions on civil liberties and the government’s handling of a worsening coronavirus epidemic, marking the most significant unrest in decades.

The State Department is also reviewing its plans to strengthen the staff of the United States Embassy in Havana “to facilitate diplomatic, consular and civil society engagement, as well as an appropriate security posture,” he said. declared the responsible.

The White House is studying the advisability of sanctioning “Cuban officials responsible for violence, repression and human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators in Cuba,” the official said. The United States “will intensify diplomatic engagement with regional and international partners to support the aspirations of the Cuban people.”

Last week, Biden said he was studying the possibility of restoring internet access in Cuba. The official said Monday that the United States “will work closely with the private sector and the United States Congress to identify viable options to make the Internet more accessible to the Cuban people.”

Since Biden came to power, Cuba’s policies have remained under review.

Under the Obama administration, Cuba oversaw the reopening of embassies and the relaxation of many restrictions in place since the embargo. But the Trump administration has adopted some of the toughest economic measures against Cuba in decades, reinstated travel restrictions, and – before stepping down – named Cuba a sponsor state of terrorism.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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