Cubans jammed banks and exchange kiosks to swap their dollars for local pesos on Thursday, as the communist government, retaliating for tightened sanctions, moved to pull the U.S. currency from general circulation.

Thursday was the first day Cubans were able to exchange dollars for convertible Cuban pesos, which are pegged at par with the dollar but worthless outside the country.

Many were uncertain about changing their precious hard currency -- mostly sent by relatives in the United States -- but felt they had little choice.

"People will have to change their dollars to live off, but they would rather keep their money in dollars," said dissident journalist Oscar Mario Gonzalez outside an exchange booth. "They know the Cuban peso is useless when they leave the Cuban coast."

Others waiting in line said the government had had no choice. "This is not an arbitrary decision. It is due to the unilateral action of the U.S. government against Cuba," book editor Cesar Ramos said.

Latest News and Financial Information | Reuters.com


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