Fri | Mar 22, 2019

PriceSmart ban on Cuban diplomats lifted

Published:Tuesday | June 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

An agreement has been reached between PriceSmart and local Cuban officials following the wholesale club's decision to suspend the accounts of Cuban Embassy staff and citizens of that nation residing in Jamaica without permanent residency.

In March, Tara Kisto, general manager of PriceSmart Jamaica, indicated in correspondence to embassy officials that the company had no choice but to suspend business transactions with Cubans, as it was a subsidiary of the United States of America-based membership warehouse club.

The Cuban ambassador to Jamaica, Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, had labelled the move to suspend the accounts of staff and residents as "criminal" and "anachronistic".

He stated that the move constituted "a demonstration of how the government of the United States extraterritorially implements the criminal provisions of its economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Cuban people".

Welcome development

However, yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said it had received word that the impasse had been resolved.

"The ministry understands that PriceSmart has formally advised the Cuban Embassy that it has been authorised to sell consumer merchandise to Cuban diplomats and consular officers, as well as their dependents who are staying at Cuban embassies and consular missions outside Cuba," a statement from the ministry read.

Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson noted that this was a welcome development and expressed that he would be "sharing the news with my CARICOM colleagues who had agreed with Jamaica that the matter might be examined by the CARICOM Legal Affairs Committee".

The foreign affairs ministry had intervened to broker a resolution between PriceSmart and the Cuban Embassy to see if some arrangement could have been made by the company to accommodate the embassy's staff.

The Cuban ambassador told The Gleaner yesterday that he welcomed the news and appreciated the ministry's intervention.

When contacted, a representative at PriceSmart Jamaica said no one was on hand to respond to The Gleaner's questions.