Cuba’s Suspension of U.S. Consular Services

If Americans are coming, the Castro regime may want to do away with the more subversive and dangerous Cuban expatriates.

By Jaime Suchlicki | December 10, 2013

Cuba’s suspension of consular services in the U.S. may have little to do with finances and much to do with Gen. Raul Castro’s interest in slowing down visits by Cuban-Americans to the island.

If no bank in the U.S. is willing to handle the finances involved with purchasing visas to travel to Cuba, the Castro regime could either waive the charges or request payment be sent to other countries or collect them from Cuban-Americans upon arriving on the island.

Perhaps the Cuban government sees this suspension as a way to put pressure on the U.S. and its ban on Americans traveling to Cuba and to test the political influence of segments of the Cuban-American community that want the end of economic sanctions. If, as the Cuban government hopes, there is massive pressure from Cuban-Americans to open travel, the prohibition for Americans may also fall by the wayside. Secretary Kerry’s statement at the OAS on November 18th may be a hint in this direction.

There is perhaps a more sinister objective on the part of the Castro government. For the Castro regime, Cuban-Americans represent a far more subversive group than U.S. tourists. They speak the language, have friends or family in the island and arrive with enormous bundles of merchandise that feeds the “cuentapropistas” and the black market. If Americans are coming, the Castro regime may want to do away with the more subversive and dangerous Cuban expatriates.

It is important to remember that in Cuba economic decisions are dictated by political considerations. The Cuban government would more than offset the loss of Cuban-American dollars with either the visits of American tourists or an increase in remittances from Cuban-Americans in the U.S.

Either way, this may be a calculated gamble by the Castro regime to force the hand of the U.S. and to change the composition of tourists coming from the U.S. Cubans no, Yankees sí.

Jaime Suchlicki is Professor and Director of the
Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies
at the University of Miami. He is the author of
Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition;
Mexico: From Montezuma to NAFTA,
now in its second edition and the recently published
Breve Historia de Cuba.
Prof. Suchlicki is also a contributor to

SFPPR News & Analysis.