The more than 50-year-old United States economic embargo on Cuba is creating problems for its embassy in Barbados, with one membership-shopping outlet refusing to do business with diplomats there.
Cuban Ambassador to Barbados Lissette Perez told Barbados TODAY that Price Smart had banned the sale of goods to the embassy, and even Cuban nationals in Barbados. In an interview at her Edghill Heights, St Thomas office today, she revealed that last January the embassy had received official correspondence from club manager of Price Smart Barbados Inc., Terry Mahon, indicating that as a subsidiary of a United States company, it could not transact business with citizens of Cuba “who do not have permanent residency here or possibly another country”.
“In an effort to comply with US laws, we are suspending those accounts which may not be permitted by the laws enacted in the USA,” Mahon’s letter added.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY, Mahon declined to say any more than what he had communicated to the Cuban Embassy in the letter. The decision follows on the heels of a similar move by PriceSmart in Jamaica and similar measures taken in recent months against Cuban embassies in different Caribbean and Central American countries. Perez said a ban had also been implemented on the embassy’s relations with the local commercial banking system.
Two years ago, the Bank of Nova Scotia in Barbados also “suspended and prohibited all financial transactions from Barbados to Havana, including those made by Barbadian official institutions and Cuban residents in Barbados,” she said.
“This prohibition means that the embassy cannot engage in money transfers through the local commercial banking sector. Under these circumstances, the operations of embassy remain hamstrung. We cannot access US currency, which is seen as an international currency. We are forced to use other currencies,” Perez lamented.
The Cuban Embassay has insisted, that it will not abandon its cooperation and assistance with other countries, especially the Caribbean, with which it shares a proud common history, destiny and challenges.
The United States cut off relations and imposed a trade embargo with communist Cuba on February 7, 2012. The embargo consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and companies under United States jurisdiction.
Perez said the situation was a demonstration of how the American government “extra-territorially implements the provisions of its economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Cuban people”.
Questioning the United States position on Cuba’s political system, the ambassador noted that even though China remained a communist country, the United States engaged in open trade with that Asian country.