An American company has bought a Canadian one that provides credit cards to Credit Union members, potentially subjecting cardholders to discrimination if travelling to Cuba, warn CUPE national leaders in a letter to Canada’s foreign minister.
The sale of Canadian credit card service provider, CUETS Financial Ltd., to the Bank of America will be of concern. Because of this corporate buyout, many of Canada’s 5 million Credit Union members – some of them CUPE members – won’t have access to credit card services while in Cuba.
“CUETS, now a subsidiary of MBNA Canada Bank, is the dominant MasterCard provider in Canada. With this corporate buyout, CUETS’s Canadian credit card services are subject to U.S. laws that apply to its U.S. parent company,” says a letter to Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier and Industry Minister Jim Prentice.
The 50-year-old U.S. regime of sanctions against Cuba and “laws like the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, for example, are at odds with Canadian foreign policy,” the letter adds. “This regime prohibits U.S. companies and their subsidiaries from providing financial or other services in Cuba.”
Also of concern, the letter says, is that the buyout represents an erosion of Canadian sovereignty, experienced in a very direct way by ordinary Canadians,” Over 638,000 Canadians travel to Cuba annually and spend more than $579 million. “This is a clear example of the corporate hollowing out of Canadian businesses through foreign takeovers – particularly U.S. takeovers – and in effect an erosion of Canadian sovereignty.”
The letter calls on the Canadian government to end support for the U.S. blockade rather than giving the American Administration more encouragement to further ostracize Cuba and its people from world markets.