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Castro to ban use of dollar

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Cuba to ban use of U.S. dollar
Last Updated Tue, 26 Oct 2004 07:56:31 EDT
HAVANA - Cuba is moving to end circulation of the widely used U.S. dollar, a response to tighter American sanctions on the Caribbean island.

A decree issued by Cuba's Central Bank says all cash purchases must be made using convertible pesos after Nov. 8.

"Beginning on Nov. 8, the convertible peso will begin to circulate in substitution of the [U.S.] dollar throughout the national territory," said President Fidel Castro in a written message read by an aide.

Cuba made the U.S. dollar legal tender in the communist country following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993.

Cubans and tourists wishing to exchange American dollars will have to pay a 10 per cent commission charge. The exchange charge will not apply to other currencies, including the Canadian dollar.

In his message, Castro asked Cubans to tell relatives living abroad to send them money in other foreign currencies, such as the euro.

The rule, which applies to Cubans, foreign residents and tourists, comes in response to tightened U.S. sanctions.

In May, Washington announced increased caps on how much money could be spent on the island or sent to Cubans from the U.S.

"The empire is determined to create more difficulties for us," said Castro, referring to the U.S.

Castro, who appeared on television for the announcement, had his arm in a blue sling after falling last week. The 78-year-old fractured his arm and knee after stumbling on steps following a speech at a graduation.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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