The Cuban office in Washington D.C. that issues visas and passports to the Caribbean country said it was forced to halt nearly all its services Tuesday because no banks will do business with it.
The Cuban Interests Section, which handles consular services for American travelers to Cuba, said that it no longer can provide key services, including passport and visa processing.
In July, M&T Bank told the Cuban Interests Section that it would no longer provide banking services to foreign missions, Cuban officials said in a news release Tuesday. The Cuban Interests Section and the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York thus had a limited amount of time to close their accounts and find a new bank to do business with, officials said.
Representatives of M&T Bank did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
The Cuban Interests Section said it made numerous efforts to find a replacement bank with branches in the U.S. to operate the bank accounts of the Cuban diplomatic missions – but none would take their business because of the U.S. embargo on the Communist-run island.
Consular services have been interrupted until further notice, except for humanitarian and other specific cases, officials said.
The Cuban Interests Section said it particularly regretted the effects the shutdown might have on Cuban and American citizens.
The office said the U.S. has a binding obligation to help it sort out the problem.
A spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said the State Department did not have any comment at the moment.
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