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Posted June 24, 2004 by publisher in US Embargo

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[url=http://www.lawg.org]http://www.lawg.org[/url]

Dear Cuba Policy Advocates:

Greetings.  As you have probably heard, new, harsh Cuba travel and
remittance regulations will take effect on June 30.  In this email
you’ll find analysis of these measures and some ideas on how to respond to these onerous, anti-family, anti-education measures.

[The information in this update draws also from work done by our colleagues at the Center for International Policy’s Freedom to Travel Campaign and the Washington Office on Latin America.  For further information and action opportunities, see the LAWG website, [url=http://www.lawg.org]http://www.lawg.org[/url] ; the CubaCentral website, [url=http://www.cubacentral.org]http://www.cubacentral.org[/url] ; and the WOLA website, [url=http://www.wola.org/cuba/cuba.htm]http://www.wola.org/cuba/cuba.htm[/url] . 

An excellent analysis of the Bush Administration’s Cuba policy was
prepared by WOLA and is available at http://www.wola.org/cuba/a_critical_analysis_of_bush.pdf .]

You’ll recall that on May 6, President Bush accepted the
recommendations from the report of his “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.”  The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury is the US agency charged with the enforcement of the embargo against Cuba.

These Commission’s recommendations became official US policy on June
16, when OFAC published new Cuba regulations in the Federal Register, with an effective date of June 30, 2004.  The new rules were issued as an
“interim final rule”; OFAC has stated that comments submitted to them prior by August 16, 2004, will be considered in the development of final regulations.

ACTION:  We encourage you to make your voice heard by sending your
comments
on the new regulations (summary follows below) to OFAC.  There are
several
ways to do this:
* online at [url=http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/comment.html;]http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/comment.html;[/url]
* by fax to the Chief of Records at 202.622.1657;
* by mail to the Chief of Records, ATTN:  Request for Comments, Office
of
Foreign Assets Control, Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania
Avenue
NW, Washington, DC 20220.

The deadline for comments is August 16, but we encourage you to write
your
response as soon as possible.  On your response, either in the online
comment form or in your hard copy, specify that you are commenting on
chapter V of 31 CFR Part 515.  In the text of your comments, please
also
write, “Office of Foreign Assets Control, Treasury, FR Doc. 04-13630.” 
We’d
appreciate receiving a copy of your comments at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  It
helps us to know what actions you take!

ACTION:  Call your representative and senators (US Capitol Switchboard
is
202.224.3121; or go to [url=http://www.house.gov]http://www.house.gov[/url] or [url=http://www.senate.gov]http://www.senate.gov)[/url] to let them
know
that you strongly oppose the new Cuba measures and that you support
unrestricted travel to Cuba by all US citizens.  The new regulations
are a
costly and dangerous endeavor.  They hurt ordinary Cubans, restrict the
rights of US citizens, and divide Cuban families.  They will only serve
to
increase tensions between the two nations, heightening fears of
forcible
regime change among the Cuban people.  The new regulations are clearly
a political ploy to gain hard-line Cuban-American votes in south Florida
in a
presidential election year.  But we believe this is a miscalculation;
Congress, Cuban Americans, and the general US public are crying out
against
this harsh policy.  Depending upon the congressional schedule and the
efficiency with which they deal with spending bills, there may be votes
in
Congress this summer and fall that address US Cuba policy, so your
input now
is important.

ACTION:  Sign a letter supporting Senator Kerry’s position on travel
and
remittances, and urge others to do the same.
Your opinion counts!  The letter may be read and signed at:
http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/Kerrycubatravel


SUMMARY OF THE NEW RULES:  the following is from a memo prepared for
the
Center for International Policy’s Freedom to Travel Campaign by Edward
L.
Rubinoff of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP.

1.  Fully-hosted travel.  The previous authorization for “fully-hosted”
travel to Cuba (for which all costs and fees either are paid for by a
third-country national who is not subject to US jurisdiction or are
covered
or waived by Cuba) is eliminated. Moreover, the regulations now include
a prohibition on the receipt of goods or services in Cuba when they are
provided free-of-charge or received as a gift, unless otherwise
authorized
by an OFAC general or specific license.  OFAC now considers
this a prohibited dealing in property in which Cuba has an interest.

2.  Importation of Cuban merchandise.  The general license that
authorized
licensed Cuba travelers to purchase in Cuba and return to the United
States
with up to $100 worth of Cuban merchandise for personal consumption is
eliminated.  Thus, no merchandise, other than informational materials,
may
be purchased or otherwise acquired in Cuba and then brought back to the
United States.

3.  Accompanied baggage.  The amount of baggage carried by an
authorized
traveler to Cuba is now limited to 44 pounds per traveler, unless a
higher
amount is authorized by OFAC or BIS.

4.  Family visits.  Under prior regulations, a general license
authorized a
person to visit a close relative (defined to include second cousins)
once
every 12 months (and more often under a specific license).  There was
no
stated limit to the duration of the first visit and travelers could
spend up
to the State Department per diem (currently $167) for living expenses
in
Cuba, plus any additional funds needed for transactions directly
related to
visiting the relative.  The new rule eliminates the general license and
requires a specific license issued by OFAC that will only authorize
travel-related transactions incident to visits to members of the
traveler’s
“immediate family” (defined as spouse, parents, children, siblings,
grandparents; visits to cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces
are
not allowed) once per three-year period, measured from the last
departure
from Cuba, for no more than 14 days.  No additional visits will be
authorized by specific licenses, according to OFAC, apparently even for
exigent circumstances.  Travelers may obtain an OFAC license to visit
an
immediate family member who is not a Cuban national (such as a student
in
Cuba under a university educational activity license) in exigent
circumstances, provided that the exigency has been reported to the US
Interests Section in Havana and the issuance of the license would
“support
the mission of the US Interests Section.”  The amendments reduce the
amount
of money travelers who are visiting immediate family members can spend
for
living expenses to $50 per day, plus up to an additional $50 per trip
to pay
for transportation-related expenses.

5.  Educational activities.  Specific licenses are limited to
undergraduate
and graduate institutions (i.e., no secondary schools) and the duration
of
such licenses is shortened from two years to one year. Only students
enrolled in the licensed institution may travel on that license;
therefore,
students may no longer travel to Cuba under the license of an
educational
institution other than their own, even if their own institution accepts
the
licensed institution’s program for credit toward the student’s degree.
Employees who travel under the license must be full-time permanent
employees
of the licensed institution.  Certain educational activates in Cuba may
be
no shorter than ten weeks; others may be for a period of less than ten
weeks. Previously licensed travel that no longer meets the new
requirements
may still go forward as long as the trips and all associated
transactions
are completed by August 15, 2004.

6   Sporting events, clinics and workshops.  The general license for
amateur
and semi-professional athletic competitions sponsored by an
international
sports federation is eliminated and OFAC will only authorize such
activities
under a specific license on a case-by-case basis.  The policy of
specifically licensing participation in workshops and clinics, whether
sports-related or otherwise, is also eliminated.

7.  Family remittances.  The general license authorizing quarterly $300
remittances sent by any US person 18 years of age or older to any
household
or national of Cuba is eliminated.  The new general license authorizes
such
remittances only when they are sent to the remitter’s immediate family.
They cannot be remitted to certain Cuban government officials and
members of
the Cuban Communist party.  The total amount of family remittances that
an
authorized traveler may carry to Cuba is reduced from $3,000 to $300.

8.  Remittance-related transactions.  The general license authorizing
depository institutions to act as forwarders for family and emigration
remittances is eliminated.  A specific authorization as a remittance
forwarder is now required.  Depository institutions are still
authorized
under general license to provide services related to other authorized
financial institutions, such as transferring funds to Cuba covered by a
specific license allowing overflight payments.

OFAC’s summary may be found at
http://www.treas.gov/offices.eotffc/ofac/actions/20040616.html .

The full text is on the Federal Register at
http://www.treas.gov/offices/eotffc/ofac/sanctions/fr69_33768.pdf .

Thanks for whatever you can do.  We’ll let you know when legislative
action
is needed.

Sincerely,

Mavis Anderson
Philip Schmidt
Latin America Working Group
[url=http://www.lawg.org]http://www.lawg.org[/url]

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 01, 2004 by Joel Mora

    If someone arrived two years ago and two months.  When will that person be able to travel for the first time?

    If that person has not travel at all in the last two years can he/she travel and then wait the three year period?

    Please advise


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