Cuba to continue renewing passports in U.S. despite banking issue

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington announced Wednesday a three-month extension of passport-renewal services in the United States, which have been hampered by the mission’s lack of a local bank.

Cuba’s diplomatic mission said that while it “continues searching for a solution” to the banking issue, through March 31, 2015, the interest section will renew passports for Cubans traveling to the island.

Applications submitted “on humanitarian grounds will continue receiving expedited processing,” the mission said in a statement.

Cubans living abroad must have a valid passport to travel to their homeland.

“Despite the efforts made since February 2014, it has been impossible to identify a U.S. banking institution, or a foreign institution operating in the United States or a third country, to perform the banking services required to provide full consular services,” the interests section said.

The predicament, according to Cuba, results from “an intensification of financial persecution measures connected with the (economic) embargo” the U.S. government has enforced against the island in effect since 1962.

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington and Cuba’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations have been without local banking services since March 1, when their long-time provider, M&T Bank, got out of that line of business.

As a consequence, Cuba had to suspend consular services for all but “humanitarian cases” until May. EFE

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