Cuban banks welcome US dollars as pandemic’s impact on tourism causes food shortages

MIAMI – Cuba experienced a sudden drop in tourism and without much-needed U.S. dollars for food imports, the coronavirus pandemic shock has come with food shortages.

Camilo Condis is a Cuban entrepreneur in Havana. He said there is scarcity some people wait in line overnight in front of government-run stores.

Condis said the Central Bank of Cuba, or the BCC, recently issued a resolution eliminating the requirement of residency for new accounts opened in U.S. dollars.

“These are not savings accounts,” Condis said. “They are only to buy goods, so this is a source of income for the Cuban government.”

The bank account’s debit card can be used to make purchases at stores authorized by Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment. Cuba started to allow residents to open bank accounts to deposit U.S. dollars in October 2019.

Andy Gómez is the former director of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. He has been watching the changes closely from Miami-Dade County.

“It is certain that the economy is in shambles, and it’s going to get worse and this pandemic has had a lot to do with it,” Gómez said.

According to the John Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, Cuban public health authorities have recorded 2005 coronavirus cases including 82 deaths.

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.