The massive protests of July 11 and 12 in Cuba showed on their bright side the desire for freedom and prosperity of the Cuban people; while on its dark side, they revealed the wolf’s ear of a selfish dictatorship ready to brutally crush those challenges to its power through its well-equipped repressive apparatus.

Check out, if you haven’t seen them yet, those videos where the thugs of the Ministry of the Interior’s National Special Brigade, or Black Berets, are shown for the first time displaying their well-trained violence against the people, dressed in brand-new black uniforms, wielding their batons, protected by their helmets, breastplates, and shields.

Remittances and repression

When it comes to saving Cubans from Covid-19, or offering abundant and cheap medicine and food, or enough buses for public transportation, or covering the abysmal housing deficit, the regime excuses itself by saying that it has no money and that the US blockade (embargo) is to blame. But money does spring up so that the children of the power elite can enjoy luxury vacations in Europe and drive luxury cars, or to buy thousands of brand-new rental cars for the military-controlled tourism industry.

And, certainly, to provide state-of-the-art anti-riot equipment ─not to mention sophisticated firearms─ to the Black Berets units that the regime keeps in each province, always ready, according to their mission statement, to “avoid or break up mass riots in places prone to them such as stadiums, cultural events or in the streets after the passage of a hurricane or other event that generates popular discontent.”

Where does that unchecked money come from?

The biggest slice comes from plundering up to 90 percent of the salaries earned by Cuban health personnel sent abroad ($3,997 million in 2020). These funds go straight to Cuba’s Banco Financiero Internacional, which is owned by the GAESA business-military group. A significant chunk comes from tourism (2020 revenue was reduced by the pandemic to $669 million) and from sales (paid mostly by Cuban exiles) of mobile phone time and data ($807 million in 2020). Yet Cuba’s number 2 income, right after what is taken from the medical brigades, is the sweet money sent to the island as family remittances ($3.72 billion in 2019).

Economist Emilio Morales has explained how those dollars or euros never reached the recipients in Cuba. Instead, GAESA deposited them in third country banks, then handed over convertible pesos to the recipients, which were later on recovered through GAESA’s hard currency collection stores, where even basic products not available elsewhere are added a 240 plus percent markup.

Notwithstanding the fact that Cuban families living abroad had to resort temporarily to irregular, more expensive ways to send their money to the island, the Trump administration acted with long-term vision when it banned US-sent remittances from being handled in Cuba by firms linked to GAESA. such as Fincimex or American International Services. (AIS). Sensible enough has been as well the postponement, by the Biden administration, of the promised restoration of these transfers to pre-Trump levels.

After seeing the irrefutable evidence of the repression captured by many of those who are currently serving long sentences on the island just for filming those scenes, the Biden team announced that they were evaluating digital payments “as part of innovative solutions” they were studying to facilitate the transfer of money from the United States to Cuba, so that it would reach the Cuban people directly. Such a solution was feasible considering that more than 7 million Cubans have mobile phones today, most of them with data plans for internet access.

What is RevoluPAY?

The first solution is already here: as of February 28, the Canadian company RevoluGROUP CANADA INC began offering the service of sending remittances electronically to Cuba through the RevoluPAY application.

If you use RevoluPAY, transfers from abroad can be made directly to the recipient in Cuba (who must have the application installed). The next step is to deposit the funds from the recipient’s wallet into a VISA card associated with it (This VISA card can be used both in Cuba and anywhere else around the world); or the transfer can be made to the recipient’s MLC (Freely Convertible Currency) account with either Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA), Banco Metropolitano, or Banco de Crédito y Comercio (BANDEC), Cuban financial institutions that are not associated with GAESA.

RevoluPAY does not need a specific license from the Department of State, as its platform meets the requirements of the law, namely: 1-) that remittances cannot be sent through companies sanctioned by the State and Treasury Departments of listed under the umbrella of the Cuban Armed Forces business structure; and 2-) that the KYC (Know Your Client) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) regulations are complied with.

The prospect of seeing millions of dollars pass from the accounts or cards of tens of thousands of exiles straight to the mobile phones of their relatives on the island using the REVOLUPAY application apparently has not pleased the insatiable Mafia State beneficiaries, who have already sent their spokesmen to denigrate the new system. They have falsely claimed that RevoluPAY charges transfer fees of up to 30%.

Emilio Morales, vice president of RevoluGROUP for the United States, unmasked such fabrication, pointing out that for a $100 transfer, if it is made directly to the recipient’s wallet, the cost is 0. If he later wishes to deposit funds from his wallet on his VISA card, he will only pay a 2.50 euros fee, whatever the amount of the transaction is: $100, $500, $1,000 or more.

In case the transaction is to an MLC account, the fees are as follows: $7.77 for $100; $13.32 for $200;  $16.65 for $300. In all cases, the cost of the transaction is half or less than what is charged by the Tocopay company, a travesty of GAESA’s American International Services, previously prohibited by Washington ($15.65 for $100, $26.57 for $200, $38.11 for $300).

Filters against criminals and repressors

To use REVOLUPAY, once the user has downloaded the application to his phone, he must pass the Know Your Client process, by entering in the app’s profile section one or two ID documents (passport and/or Driver License, or Cuba’s Carnet de Identidad).

If any repressor on the island dares to take advantage of the system, the platform will veto him if he is a prohibited official of the Cuban government under United States regulations, which include many categories, from ministers and high-ranking FAR and MININT officers to minions of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. He will also be rejected if he happens to be on the list created by the Cuban Repressors program of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.

Cuba was the only country in the Americas in which family remittances were trafficked by the military. Not anymore.