Biden says U.S. prepared to send vaccines to Cuba but not ease policy on remittances

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States is prepared to send vaccines to Cuba if it is assured an international organization would administer them but he is not considering easing U.S. policy around sending remittances to the country.

Thousands of Cubans on Sunday staged the biggest anti-government protests in decades to demonstrate against an economic crisis that has seen shortages of basic goods and power outages. They were also protesting the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and curbs on civil liberties. Dozens of activists were detained.

“I’d be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccine, if in fact I was assured an international organization would administer those vaccines,” Biden told reporters during a press conference after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

With regard to remittances, or payments Americans can make to their families in Cuba, Biden said he is not going to do that now. Remittances to Cuba are believed to be around $2 billion to $3 billion annually and represent Cuba’s third biggest source of dollars after the services industry and tourism.

“It is highly likely that the regime would confiscate those remittances or a big chunk of it,” he said, while calling Cuba a “failed state” that is “repressing their citizens.”

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