The State Department announced Wednesday the creation of a Remittances Working Group focused on getting funds "directly into the pockets of the Cuban people."
"We can't let remittances to Cubans fall into the hands of the oppressors," wrote Julie Chung, the acting secretary for the western hemisphere, in a tweet.
The White House did not respond to requests for information regarding the makeup of the working group on remittance or the group's specific tasking.
"I don't know that now's the time to change the Trump remittance policy" on Cuba, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) told LPO on Tuesday, adding: "I have no doubt President Biden would like to return to a full remittance policy."
What we don't like to do is have remittances that go to Cuba and the government of Cuba takes a big cut off the top before they give it to families. That's been a problem with the remittance policy in the past, but I hope we'll see some responsiveness on the Cuban side that will resort in the step-by-step processes moving forward that was characteristic of the Obama-Biden administration. - Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is a Republican who tells LPO he too supports a return to the Cuba policies of Barack Obama's administration. Gutierrez was a key Obama administration ally in the push to ease decades-long tensions between Cuba and the United States.
It's an interesting moment in Cuba's life because for the first time in decades there's not a Castro in power, even though Raul Castro still has significant power. At this moment, Cuba has some decisions to make and I hope that they make the decision to accept the hand that Joe Biden stretched out to them a couple of years ago. - Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Senators Moran and Klobuchar have introduced bipartisan legislation to do away with the Cuba embargo completely, which in effect would eliminate the embargo's restrictions on remittances.
Meanwhile, the additional sanctions on remittances to Cuba that the Trump administration put in place - which included closing all 407 Western Union locations where Cubans went to receive remittance payments - will remain active. Cubans on the island are estimated to receive between $2-3 billion dollars per year in remittance payments that originate in the United States.
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