WASHINGTON – James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, released the following statement on the announcement that Stonegate Bank has agreed to offer consular banking services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC:
“As an advocacy organization dedicated to removing barriers to American travel and trade that prevent us from better helping the Cuban people and advancing American interests, Engage Cuba was pleased to have played a role in facilitating this historic partnership between Florida-based Stonegate Bank and the future Cuban embassy in Washington, DC. This is a significant step not only toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, but to ensure that Cuban-Americans -- and indeed all Americans -- who want to play a part in Cuba's evolution are able to rely on the consular services and financial transaction infrastructure that it demands. The failed 54-year-old embargo on U.S. investment and banking has limited Cuban-Americans from visiting and supporting their families and loved ones; moreover, it has hampered opportunities for Cuba’s rising class of entrepreneurs. Engage Cuba firmly believes that significant steps like today’s banking agreement are essential to developing fruitful bilateral relationships that will bolster economic opportunity and personal liberty for the Cuban people. Now Congress should follow suit and lift outdated travel and trade bans on the American people.”
Below is a link to Bloomberg's exclusive coverage of this significant development and an excerpt from the article:
By Indira Lakshmanan, May 21, 2015
"The solution was cooked up over steak salad, fried chicken and tomato soup. At the table were James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a Washington-based group promoting closer economic and cultural ties with Cuba; Ariel Pereda, a Miami businessman who’s the exclusive distributor for a number of U.S. food brands sold in Cuba; and Mark Wells, the head of the State Department’s Cuba desk."
"Wells told the others that talks were progressing, but they had been unable to help Cuba find a bank. Pereda, who has been a campaign fundraiser for Republicans as well as some Democrats and backs the Obama administration’s Cuba policy, pulled out his mobile phone and called Seleski."
"Pereda knew Stonegate well because the bank has been handling his food export business with the island for five years. That also meant it was one bank already experienced in handling bank transactions with the Cuban government."