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Think the Cuba sanctions ended? Better read this

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control published a new set of questions and answers Thursday about the sanctions on Cuba. OFAC's answers will surprise a lot of people.

President Obama announced a lifting of sanctions in late 2014. And after his historic trip to Havana last month, many assumed that travel and trade are now wide open.

That's not true.

Here's one of the FAQs:

Are sanctions on Cuba still in place following the President’s announcement on December 17, 2014?

Yes, the Cuba embargo remains in place. Most transactions between the United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba continue to be prohibited, and OFAC continues to enforce the prohibitions of the CACR [the the Cuban Assets Control Regulations].

Here's another:

Is travel to Cuba for tourist activities permitted?

No. Consistent with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), travel-related transactions involving Cuba are only permitted for the 12 categories of activities identified in the CACR. Travel-related transactions for other purposes remain prohibited.

And this:

What are the travel authorizations in the Cuba program?

Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to the criteria and conditions in each general license: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

There are 97 Q&As in the 26-page OFAC document. Included topics are travel and carrier services, remittances, banking, trade and business, and telecommunications.

The FAQ release comes with a caveat. It's "explanatory only," OFAC said, and doesn't "have the force of law, and does not supplement or modify the Executive Orders, statutes, or regulations relating to Cuba."

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba dated April 21, 2016 is here (pdf).


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.