Like any Latin American country, Cuba receives from the United States millions of dollars through remittances from emigrants, a community whose numbers in 2011 was somewhere around 1,889,000, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Out of them 801 thousand were born on U.S. soil as direct descendants of emigrants.
But who send these remittances? 811,000 Cubans work in the United States (this includes both immigrants and their descendants). It is not an inconsiderable figure: were they on the island, it would represent about 16 percent of the workforce in Cuba.
The amount of remittances from the U.S. to Cuba is not a public figure. The State Department estimated in 2013 that it ranged between 1.4 and 2 billion dollars, a figure that exceeds most of the areas of the Cuban economy other than tourism and the export of medical services. In this calculation, the remittances sent by the community of a hundred thousand Cubans living in Spain are not included.
Remittances are a source of external financing contributing to the liquidity of the country, a direct injection of capital that doesn’t demand upfront investment or expenditure by the state or a foreign partner. The Cuban economist Pavel Vidal said that the exchange rate of the Cuban peso against the dollar in the Casas de Cambio (CADECA) was traded at a time from various indicators, including remittances.
If, after the elimination of the dual currency, Cuba eliminates the current system of fixed exchange rate (unchanged) and returns to the “buoyancy” (a different quotation each day, according to the behavior of certain factors), remittances would be one of the indicators that determine the value of the Cuban peso against foreign currencies.
Even in the new economic scenario, remittances have a special role. The Director General of Foreign Investment in Cuba, Deborah Saavedra Rivas acknowledged that currencies arrivals from abroad were sometimes the initial capital that the self-employed had to start their businesses.
The aging of the Cuban labor force, because of the declining birth rate and emigration abroad, mainly to the United States will make remittances to have an even more important role in the Cuban economic future.