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Havana Times | Nicaragua: The Specter of Controls over Family Remittances

Author: Ivan Olivares
Image: Western Union office. File photo: lavozdelsandinismo.com

HAVANA TIMES – One day last March, ‘Emiliana’, a 36-year-old Nicaraguan living in a city on the Pacific Coast, went to one of the agencies that receives and processes remittances from abroad, to pick up $70 that had been sent to her. She was only able to receive the money after two days of paperwork and an interrogation in which she was even asked about her religion.

“They had sent us the money to help somebody in the group, who is sick.  A contact in Spain got $50 for us, and somebody in Costa Rica contributed $20 more,” she told Confidencial, without revealing the names of those who were helping the sick person.

She went to the branch office that day, thinking that it would be a “normal withdrawal”. But to her surprise, they made her fill out a form requiring her to provide a great deal more information than one would think necessary: who does she live with? What is her marital status? Religion? The names of her parents? “Why would I have to provide so much personal information, just to receive a little money?” she asked, but she still doesn’t know.

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