Cuba suspends US consular services
The Cuban government said it has suspended consular services in the United States after an American bank decided to withdraw its facilities, the BBC reports.
Cuba said it will not be able to renew passports and process visas unless it finds an alternative to the M&T bank.
The bank said its decision was taken for business reasons.
The move is likely to prevent tens of thousands of people travelling from the US to Cuba every month and could have a big impact on the economy there.
The US broke off diplomatic relations with the communist-run island in 1961 and imposed an economic embargo a year later.
In the absence of bilateral contacts, consular services have been handled by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.
In a statement, the Cuban government blames the trade embargo for its failure to find a new bank “in spite of huge efforts made.”
The M&T bank announced last year that it would stop accepting deposits from February 17, which is a public holiday in the US.
“The section regrets any inconvenience this situation may cause,” read the statement.
It said it will only be able to handle “humanitarian cases.”
More than 40,000 people on average travel to Cuba from the US every month, most of them Cuban-Americans, according to the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group.