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Cuba accuses news websites of colluding with US to undermine stability.

TraderKnows
TraderKnows
05-11

The Cuban government has accused El Toque of collaborating with the United States to destabilize Cuba's economy through exchange rate manipulation. El Toque's publication of peso-dollar exchange rates higher than official government rates has drawn s

The Cuban government and the independent online news site El Toque were embroiled in a heated dispute this week, with official media accusing the site of manipulating the black market exchange rate, leading to the impoverishment of the Cuban people and inciting instability in the Caribbean island.

The El Toque website (eltoque.com) has drawn the ire of the government of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel for publishing an exchange rate of the Cuban peso to the US dollar that is higher than the two official rates set by the government.

Cuban official media intensified their criticism of El Toque this week, labeling the site's currency tracker—the most widely used tracker on the island—as "financial terrorism."

A report by CubaDebate, an official media outlet, claimed: “El Toque secretly receives funding from the United States and has set a false value for the exchange rate between the peso and the dollar.” “This strategy is aimed at triggering (widespread) protests in Cuba.”

The US State Department has not yet responded to these allegations.

The exchange rate of the Cuban peso to the dollar depreciated by nearly half on its own in 2024, exacerbating the dispute between the Cuban government and El Toque. This sharp depreciation has already weakened the purchasing power of the Cuban people, who have been suffering from economic crisis, inflation, and shortages.

Cubans are increasingly eager for the expensive dollar as a haven against currency shocks, as well as for migrating and purchasing food and fuel on an island that is increasingly reliant on the dollar.

El Toque defended its online exchange rate tracker, describing the Cuban allegations as “absurd and not credible.”

“They have decided to make our platform El Toque a scapegoat to prove their failure,” José Jasán Nieves, the Miami-based general editor of El Toque, stated in an email sent to readers.

El Toque stated that it uses artificial intelligence to scan messages published online, where buyers and sellers declare their buying or selling prices for various currencies, to calculate its exchange rates.

Independent economists, both on the island and abroad, pointed out that the rapid depreciation of the peso is consistent with the severe contraction of domestic production and exports, the ballooning fiscal deficit, and the high demand for scarce dollars.

For months, the Cuban government has been promising decisive measures to stop the depreciation of the peso but has yet to announce new measures.

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