Fidel explains the change of currency
Campaign News | Wednesday, 27 October 2004
'Nothing can intimidate us' says President
Fidel Castro affirms on TV that the country needed to act urgently in the face of the latest imperialist action in the field of finance ? The dollar is to be replaced by the Cuban convertible peso within national territory ? The Central Bank of Cuba has adopted the appropriate resolution
BY MARIA JULIA MAYORAL AND VENTURA DE JESUS -Granma daily staff writers-
FROM November 8, the convertible peso will circulate throughout the whole of our national territory as a replacement for the U.S. dollar, in response to the intensification of the empire’s economic warfare. The news was announced yesterday during the Roundtable discussion program with the active participation of President Fidel Castro.
"Over the last few weeks," commented Fidel, "we have been analyzing every detail, each response that we would have to give for the crooked actions of the empire that is increasingly intent on creating more difficulties for us.
"The U.S. government has dictated new measures directed at systematically hindering the flow of Cuba’s external finances, which would provoke grave damage and serious risks for our country. As part of this policy, the Bush administration has intensified pressure and threats on foreign banks to prevent the island from making deposits abroad - for the purpose of dealing with our commercial obligations - using the U.S. dollars that our population and foreign visitors spend in Cuban establishments that sell merchandise or offer services in this currency."
During the Roundtable, it was explained that the U.S. State Department’s assistant deputy secretary for western hemisphere affairs recently announced the creation of a Pursuance of Cuban Assets Group, made up of officials from various government agencies, in order to interfere with and put a stop to the flow of dollars to and from Cuba, which constitutes an unprecedented aggression in the history of international financial relations.
The aforementioned group has been complemented by a crude press campaign in the mainstream media, fundamentally in South Florida, with the intention of distorting the truth and presenting Cuba as a country involved in money laundering and, at the same time, reinforcing the intimidation of foreign banks that have links with our country. In this midst of this dung heap of lies, those allied with the Cuban-American mafia appear as leading players once again, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Díaz-Balart.
The resolution by the Central Bank of Cuba that brings into effect our country’s decisions was also presented during the television broadcast.
OUR COUNTRY’S DIE IS CAST
According to Fidel, being in possession of dollars or other hard currencies will not be illegal: the population can maintain its possession of these currencies without any restriction whatsoever.
He described as "criminal" the use of the term "money laundering" to refer to the transactions in dollars that our country has honorably undertaken. He underlined that the persons most affected by this situation will not be the Cuban people, who are accustomed to imperialist lies, but those who reside in the United States itself, including U.S. citizens.
Whilst they are depriving the Cuban nation of dollars used to cover its basic needs, the Miami mafia is arranging to send money to its mercenaries in Cuba. They don’t send it directly: they choose someone important, for example a deputy from the remotest places, to being dollars to those on their payroll on the island, commented Fidel.
"You cannot crush a country just like that," he stressed. "You can sow chaos and uncertainty in the world and even prompt emigration. And don’t be trying afterwards to make our country responsible for it. Our die is cast and there is nobody who can intimidate or threaten us," he warned.
The president refuted the slanderous charges that the island’s dollar income is being used to finance "internal repression."
A significant percentage of Cuba’s dollars have been used to purchase foodstuffs, paid for in cash and without any delay. "For that reason we have prestige with U.S. farmers," Fidel recalled.
A total of 3,371,900 tons of food has been imported from that country. In 2001 28,200 tons worth $4.4 million was purchased from the U.S. business sector.
In 2002, that volume rose by 831,900 tons, worth $175.9 million. In 2003, it increased by 1,272,900 tons, at a value of $343.9 million. From January to October of the present year 1,238,900 tons has been bought from U.S. farmers at a price of $390.4 million.
Fidel emphasized that funds earned by the country through the sweat of its brow, without plundering from anybody, without exploiting anyone, without stealing from anyone, have been used for those purchases.
Francisco Soberón, minister-president of the Central Bank of Cuba, stated that to accuse us of money laundering is, moreover, a lie that should not be uttered by officials of a country whose banks undertake more than 50% of that type of illegal operation on the planet.
"Our banking system," Fidel emphasized, "has been maintained for 45 years without any fraud. There are no cases in Cuba of people whose money has been touched, not even in the most complex circumstances. The exchange rate with the dollar has not been altered for three years and people feel secure. There are billions of pesos in accounts held by the population in the branches of our banks.
"We are a country of Patria o Muerte," he ratified, "where the overwhelming majority of our citizens do not wish to return to a past that nowadays is the reality of many countries. This is the country of most equality in the world; every day we discover the vast human capital of our people. They can try to asphyxiate us by perversely denying us what we have honorably earned. They do not understand what Cuba is," he asseverated.
In the course of the program, which lasted more than three hours, the president showed extreme fitness and his proverbial optimism in focusing on the philosophy of the decisions taken to protect the Cuban peso and our population.
Average purchase of dollars from the population 66-plus times up
YESTERDAY’s Roundtable program announced a notable increase in the acquisition of Cuban pesos in exchange for dollars by the population that day, as a result of the measures announced on Monday, October 25. The panelists highlighted the significance of these transactions as a display of the population’s total confidence in the Revolution and, in particular, the stability and security of the national currency. It was likewise emphasized that this was irrefutable evidence of the population’s correct understanding of these measures.
We can affirm that, at the close of CADECA operations at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 26, these bureaus had made the largest exchange of dollars for pesos in one day since they came into existence 10 years ago.
The total figure of CADECA’s net purchases of dollars from the population yesterday was more than 66 times that of the average net purchase on the two preceding days which, without any doubt, reflects a victory of exceptional importance in this new battle of the Revolution against the perfidious maneuvers of its enemies.
This is also a clear message of intelligence and political maturity on the part of our population, which augurs the round success of the measures communicated by our president during the October 25 Roundtable.
October 27, 2004
Havana, October 25 - Cuban President Fidel Castro appeared on Cuban television to announce an important change in the country's economy due to recent measures taken by the US government to use dollars to strangle the Island.
As of November 8, 2004 dollars will no longer circulate as legal tender in the country being replaced by the convertible peso which exchanges one-for-one with the dollar.
Prior to that date dollars may be exchanged into pesos at no charge. All accounts in dollars are fully protected and can remain as such.
There is no limit to the amount of dollars that Cubans may hold, but they cannot be used to purchase goods on the Island after November 8.
All remittances sent to Cuban families -in cash or otherwise - should be made in Canadian dollars, Euros or other currencies to avoid a 10% conversion charge, the Cuban leader said.
Those tourist resorts currently accepting Euros will continue to do so without restrictions.
The dramatic change to Cuba's economy is designed to limit the damage that continues to be done to Cuba which finds itself increasingly unable to use dollars to pay foreign creditors due to US pressures on foreign banks.
Foreign banks were put on guard in May when the Federal Reserve fined UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, $US100 million ($A134 million) for transferring freshly printed dollar notes to Cuba and three other countries subject to US sanctions, Libya, Iran and Yugoslavia.
Foreign bankers in Havana said this had created serious problems for Cuba to deposit its dollars abroad and renew bills in circulation.
Existing dollar accounts will be "totally guaranteed" and their funds can be withdrawn in the US or local currency at any date with no charge, the decree said. Dollar bank transfers will be also be accepted, but not cash deposits.
Foreign companies operating in Cuba, as well as Cuban state enterprises, will not longer be able to make dollar bank deposits in cash.
Cuba's tourism is based on the dollar, though euros are accepted as currency in some resorts. Tourists will have to exchange their currency into convertible pesos, though the 10 per cent charge will only apply to dollars, the decree said.
The commission will not affect credit cards payments. Cards issued by US-based banks are not valid in Cuba.
Cuba took the first step to curb dollar circulation last year when it banned state corporations from using the US currency in their domestic operations.
Dollars have been accepted on the island as legal tender since August of 1993.