Belgian banks refuse to transfer money to Cuba

Cuba is experiencing a major economic crisis due to the combined effects of 60 years of the US embargo and the COVID-19 pandemic. The US embargo costs approximately $7.7 billion annually, money that cannot be invested in the economic and social development of the population. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted tourism revenues. The population is facing severe shortages of food and medicine. The precarious situation, which they are deliberately causing, is used by the United States to fuel social unrest in Cuba and discredit the government. Belgian banks such as ING and BNP Paribas Fortis are aiding the stifling US financial control of Cuba by not allowing their clients to transfer money to Cuba.

This contravenes European and Belgian legislation prohibiting compliance with US sanctions laws against Cuba (EC 2271/96). But these banks do not care. European regulations and the numerous condemnations by Europe of the US embargo against Cuba have no effect. This situation is unacceptable.

Shocking facts:

  • Student X trains in Cuba and asks his bank, ING, to justify himself: “We have established that based on credit card transactions in your checking account, you may be a resident of Cuba for a long time.” The bank threatens to close the account because the bank is “unwilling to do business” with this country.
  • In June, Vzw YZ received a notification from BNP Paribas Fortis that the bank was terminating its relationship with clients. The non-profit organization has been doing solidarity work with Cuba for years. Officially, the organization has not received any reason as to why. Unofficially, the bank has been bombarding the nonprofit for months with all kinds of questions about its ties to Cuba: How is the money from fundraising used to send containers to Cuba or what is the nonprofit’s organizational chart?
  • In 2005, a recognized Belgian organization transferred funds intended for a food program in Cuba through a Belgian bank to a Swiss account. The US Treasury confiscated all the funds. So far, the Belgian organization cannot transfer funds to Cuban social organizations, neither in dollars nor in euros. Moreover, the organization is not able to make transfers to European companies bearing the “Cuba” brand.
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The embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba is condemned all over the world. On June 23, 2121, the United Nations General Assembly condemned 29you all Consecutive time and by an overwhelming majority of 184 votes in favor, 2 against (the United States and Israel) and 3 members (Brazil, Ukraine and Colombia) the economic and financial embargo against Cuba. Although the United States stands alone in this international forum, the United States maintains its anti-Cuban stance. Hopes that President Biden would soon ease some of the additional sanctions imposed by Trump proved illusory.

The United States has banned all trade with Cuba for more than 60 years. The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 extended this trade ban to non-US companies that use a portion of US capital or do business in the United States.

The European Union condemns the blockade

The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the embargo imposed on Cuba, as it impedes free international trade and harms the interests of European companies. with the Prohibition Decree No. 2271/96, in short, the Prohibition Law He stated that the European Union prohibits European companies from complying with US sanctions laws.

Mrs. S. was. Willems, the Secretary of State, is very clear on this matter in the Federal Parliament on July 13, 2121: In particular, the regulation prohibits compliance with that penalty, as well as cooperation with US authorities or courts in this regard. European citizens or companies that nevertheless comply with this penalty can be held liable.”

The conclusions are clear. These Belgian banks have incorporated US sanctions laws against Cuba into their policies, in violation of EU rules. In addition, the banks go further than “enforcing” US sanctions laws, preventing transfers in euros between two European countries.

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Fourteen days work

That’s why we ask Competent Ministers of Economy and Finance Sending a periodic letter to the banks containing specific guidelines ensuring the free transfer of payments to Cuba.

from European Commission Moreover, it must provide citizens, businesses, and banks with comprehensive protection against fines that the United States may impose because of its relations with Cuba.

from banks We expect them to properly conduct the transfers to Cuba. They have the ability to develop alternative payment mechanisms that prevent the intervention of the US administration. We also demand that banks not block transfers within Europe because the word “Cuba” is mentioned in the name of the beneficiary or in the toll-free call.

To reinforce these demands, the Coordination of lifting the embargo on Cuba Fourteen days from 15-30 November 2021. We call on the relevant banks and responsible economy and finance ministers to send a protest email containing our demands. Moreover, we will do that November 17 in Liege and on November 24 in Ghent Building a symbolic wall for the offices of ING and BNP Paribas Fortis, just as they are close to reaching Cuba.

PS 1: Protest action near the offices of ING and BNP Paribas Fortis

Wednesday 17 November at 2:30 pm near the Place de l’Opéra in Liege

Wednesday, November 24 at 3:30 p.m. at Kouter in Ghent.

PS 2: The full file can be found here.

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