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The U.S. Departments
of Treasury, Commerce and State jointly announced amendments to the Cuba
sanctions program that the president announced in June, putting stricter
controls on individual American tourist travel to Cuba and barring Americans
from doing business, meaning any direct financial transactions, with any
business or entity controlled by the island nation's military.
Havana Club Rums
"We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban
military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and
economic freedom for the Cuban people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
said in a statement Wednesday. The
administration has blacklisted approximately 180 Cuban businesses and entities
it identified as being under the control of, or acting on behalf of, the Cuban
military, intelligence or security services or personnel. They include a number of hotels, rum
producers, beverage manufacturers, fashion
companies, real estate firms, marinas and stores in Old Havana, according to the
State Department's so-called Cuba restricted list.
have to jump through more hoops to travel to Cuba under the expanded
restrictions. Individual tourism to Cuba has long been banned by federal law,
but the Obama administration had been more relaxed in granting travelers
certain categories of exemptions that allowed them to travel. There are a dozen
categories under which Americans are authorized to travel to Cuba, including
for family visits, religious activities, professional research and professional
meetings, humanitarian activities, etc.
latest updates to the restrictions, Americans will no longer be able to go on
what the administration calls individual people-to-people travel to Cuba.
They'll be required to travel with a sponsoring organization subject to U.S.
jurisdiction, for example, like a tour group operated by a U.S. company. And the same would apply for educational
travel to Cuba, meaning an American group or university would have to be
involved as the sponsoring organization. In both situations, a representative
from the sponsoring U.S. organization would have to accompany the travelers on
the Cuba trip. Such activities must also
enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or
promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities. For example, renting a room in a private
Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants
(paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans
(cuentapropistas) are among the authorized activities. However, in order to
meet the requirement of a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in
additional authorized "support for the Cuban people" activities, the
Treasury Department said.
rules are a welcome development because they remove uncertainty and afford
predictability for businesses, and they allow for robust transactions to
continue on the island," said Pedro Freyre, a partner and chair of the
international practice at Akerman LLP. However,
critics of the sanctions policy have slammed it as counterproductive, saying it
makes it harder for U.S. companies to do business in Cuba and could actually
end up costing the American economy billions and affect thousands of jobs.
new regulations create a more convoluted, confusing and counterproductive
approach to Cuba policy," James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a
coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and
trade embargo on Cuba, said in a statement. "This 'Keystone Cops' Cuba
policy hurts those it claims to help and helps those it claims to hurt."