Euro making its rounds in Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- The euro began circulating at Cuba's leading
tourist resort this week, the first step toward a more extensive use of
Europe's common currency on the Caribbean island, official media said on
"Stores ... three hotels and restaurants inaugurated the use of a third
currency that will live in our country with the U.S. dollar and Cuban peso," the
state-run daily, Juventud Rebelde, said in a report from the Varadero resort, less
than 100 miles (160 km) east of Havana.
The euro was expected to be in full circulation by June in Varadero, which
The country is the target of a 40-year-old U.S. economic embargo.
"Introduction of the euro will make it easier and cheaper for Europeans,
who are 55
percent of our visitors, to travel here. We hope by 2003 that the euro can be used
as a money of exchange at all areas in Cuba frequented by tourists," Cuban
Tourism Minister Ibrahim Ferradaz said last week.
The manager of the Melia Habana Hotel in the capital, Eric Payre, said,
some French-Caribbean colonies like Guadeloupe and Martinique, I think Cuba is
the first place in the Americas where you can use euros and that should stimulate
Cuba -- desperate for foreign exchange after the demise of its former benefact
the Soviet Union, left it with little money to import fuel, food and other essentials --
authorized dollar possession and use in 1993, parallel to the country's peso
currency, as it set out to develop international tourism and attract dollars from
Cubans living abroad.
Dollar loved, hated
Inside Cuba the dollar is now the currency of choice of the population
businesses, an embarrassment for Castro, who has repeatedly criticized increased
use of the U.S. currency in Latin America as a sign of Washington's predominance
in the region.
The euro became the money of exchange throughout most of the 15-member
European Union this year. The common currency was introduced as a money of
reserve, payment, and international trade in 1999 and has been adopted by 12 EU
In July 1999, Cuba was the first Latin American nation to make use of the
obligatory for all of the island's contract and payment transactions with EU states
using the currency.
"The euro will help to free us from the privileges and tyranny of the dollar,"
said in May 1999, addressing Latin American and European leaders at a summit in
Cuba's plan to allow the euro to circulate at tourist resorts, and perhaps
such as Havana, has sparked speculation the euro may some day replace the U.S.
"I am sure the government would love to get rid of the dollar," said a
economist who asked not to be identified.
"But it will not happen any time soon. The economy is very dependent on
sent by Cubans living in the United States, around $700 million last year. Besides,
we want more and more Americans to visit despite the embargo's ban on most
travel here," he said.
Copyright 2002 Reuters.