US Blockade Threatens Prensa Latina’s Work at UN

 Havana, Nov 29 (Prensa Latina) – The refusal of M&T Bank to continue providing services to the Cuban diplomatic missions in the United States has also affected the office of the Prensa Latina Latin America News Agency based at the United Nations. Since March 2010, the bank has held the account for the Prensa Latina office at the headquarters of the world organization in New York, where the agency has worked for more than five decades.

However, on July 12, the agency’s correspondent received a letter signed by Peter Senica, vice president of M&T Bank, headquartered in Baltimore, announcing the decision to “close the division that provides services to diplomatic entities and all related accounts, included that of employees and relatives.”

Headquartered in Havana and nearing its 55th anniversary, Prensa Latina is recognized worldwide as an international news agency specializing in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 30 offices worldwide.

It is also a founding member of the Latin American Union of News Agencies and has been an active participant in the context of the World Congress of News Agencies, the most recent of which was held in Saudi Arabia this month.

The Prensa Latina representation at the U.N. renewed and received in January this year, a special license granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department, effective until 2015.

That document, framed as “regulations of Cuban assets control” (blockade), authorized M&T Bank to “open, maintain, and operate the account on behalf of Prensa Latina,” “solely to cover its personal expenses.”

Three days ago, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington denounced “the existing restrictions resulting from the U.S. Government’s policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba”.

It stressed that these limitations have made it impossible to find a replacement U.S. bank or one from another country with a branch office in the United States to take on the bank accounts of the Cuban diplomatic missions and as a result, consular services have been suspended.

It reiterated that the U.S. government has a legal obligation to ensure compliance with the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations.