How the campaign works
We want to mobilise large numbers of bank customers to send small transactions – as little as 1 cent/1 pence – from UK or European bank accounts, using reference words or destinations that are likely to trigger the banks’ sanctions mechanisms against Cuba.
Each small transaction, and subsequent complaint process, can create a burden of (costly) administrative work for the bank at minimal cost to the customer.
Multiple coordinated transactions have the potential to create an unmanageable quantity of work for the banks and so make the US blockade of Cuba too costly to enforce.
What are we campaigning against?
Banks in Britain and Europe illegally enforce the US blockade of Cuba despite UK and EU laws to prevent this.
Financial transactions which either engage with Cuba or refer to Cuba have been stopped. For example, HSBC ‘inhibited’ the account of Cubanos en UK, a community association raising funds to send medical equipment to Cuba. After this was denounced publicly and protests were called, HSBC unblocked the account, but Cuba remains on the bank’s sanctions list.
Simply sending a bank transaction to an account in another country with the reference ‘CUBA’ can alert the internal review systems of banks so they are required to check the purpose of the transaction, and may block the payment.
Through testing, we have found that some banks will actually reject international payments to third countries if they have any suspicion that the transaction is associated with Cuba.
This behaviour is open to customer complaints and legal challenges.