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Remittances, Travel and Uncertainty

'It would be incongruous not to curtail remittances and trips by American citizens without family ties on the Island.'

La Habana

 Castroism has been always a parasitic system. Its inability to sustain itself is exacerbated whenever it loses its external sources of resources, or they falter. First it was the former Soviet Union and the Communist block, and now it is Venezuela. These are, then, times marked by a desperate search for new sources of funds.

The elite in the power understands that the an economic upturn means greater liberties. They have demonstrated this when they are on the brink of collapse, making small maneuvers to survive, but avoiding significant transformations and their corresponding risks and costs.

Since the 90s the regime has been depending on the wealth of those who left in the "diaspora"  to support millions of Cubans. Treating families like hostages, the system ends up channeling billions into its coffers. The emigration phenomenon, linked to the dispatch of remittances, constitutes a business scheme that allows it to assuage social disconent and to obtain a certain level of sustainability, without daring to introduce real economic reform.

The flow of remittances has been growing, from 800 million, in 1996, up to 1.2 billion in 2002, and 1.4 billion in 2008, according to data from Cepal and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The regime has sought to attract even more remittances to Cuba by facilitating both their reception in cash and new ways to commercialise products and goods. Online purchases and the adding of funds using telephone accounts have led to their volume doubling, or more, relative to previous decades.

The urgent need to mitigate inefficiency forced the system to make accommodations to freelance employment. For this it needed investments from those who left in the diaspora, which was facilitated by the previous American Administration, which lifted the limits on the funds that could be sent. With onerous taxes and the requirement of bank accounts that retain 65% of incomes, Castroism again acted to guaranteed its yields and to curb any real growth in the sector.

This Administration, however, has chosen a stricter policy of sanctions than its predecessors. The enforcement of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act make this policy  a more effective instrument. Given the situation, it would be incongruous not to restrict the flow of remittances and trips by American citizens without familiar ties on the Island, considering that 90% of remittances come from the U.S.A.

The establishment of a limit of 1,000 dollars quarterly constitutes a comfortable amount for an individual, one far superior to that which the regime compensates the workers under its total control.

In the midst of the transfer of power, from Cuba's decrepit elite to its heirs, the old guard will be forced to make maneuvers to maintain power. The political and social scenario may now be perceived with greater intensity than usual, and the internal opposition needs all the support it can get to be able to shake up the situation, at a standstill.

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