On September 24, 2020, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a Federal Register notice amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) in order “to further implement the President’s foreign policy to deny the Cuban regime sources of revenue.” The changes will restrict: (1) lodging at certain properties in Cuba; (2) importing Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products; (3) attending or organizing professional meetings or conferences in Cuba; and (4) participating in and organizing certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba. These amendments to the CACR are effective immediately and continue President Trump’s roll back of former President Obama’s easing of sanctions toward Cuba. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “The Cuban regime has been redirecting revenue from authorized U.S. travel for its own benefit, often at the expense of the Cuban people ….This Administration is committed to denying Cuba’s oppressive regime access to revenues used to fund their malign activities, both at home and abroad.”
In brief, the amendments to the CACR include:
- Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List – persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from lodging, paying for lodging, or making any reservation for or on behalf of a third party to lodge at any property that the Secretary of State has identified as owned or controlled by the Cuban government, a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, a close relative of a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, or a close relative of a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party. The State Department has created the “Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List,” to identify the names, addresses, or other identifying details of properties subject to this OFAC prohibition. The initial list includes 433 properties.
- Cuban-Origin Alcohol and Tobacco – importation into the United States of Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products will be removed from several general authorizations. Previously, the importation of Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products as accompanied baggage was authorized for non-commercial use under certain circumstances.
- Professional Meetings and Conferences – elimination of the general authorization of travel-related and other transactions incident to attendance at, or organization of, professional meetings or conferences in Cuba. Going forward, such transactions will only be authorized by specific licenses on a case-by-case basis to the extent not authorized under other travel-related authorizations.
- Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Competitions, and Exhibitions – elimination of the general authorization related to public performances, clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and exhibitions. Going forward, these activities will only be authorized by specific licenses on a case-by-case basis. As a result of this amendment, according to OFAC, the only remaining general license for participation in and organization of athletic competitions in Cuba will be the general license for athletic competitions by amateur or semi-professional athletes or athletic teams.