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Posted September 04, 2009 by publisher in OFAC

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The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to implement President Obama’s initiative of April 13, 2009 to change the rules in three major areas, family visits, family remittances, and telecommunications.

OFAC has issued a general license authorizing travel related transactions for visits to “close relatives” (aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba. There is no limit on the frequency or duration such visits to “close relatives” and OFAC has also issued a general license easing restrictions on remittances. These amendments do not affect the prohibition on remittances to a “prohibited official of the Government of Cuba” or a “prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.”

Certain telecommunications services, contracts, related payments, and travel related transactions are also authorized by general licenses. Pursuant to the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, which amended the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), these amendments authorize travel-related transactions incident to agricultural and medical sales under TSRA.

Changes to Cuban Assets Control Regulations

Family visits:

OFAC has eased restrictions on travel-related transactions for visits to “close relatives” who are nationals of Cuba by issuing a general license.

  * Travelers may visit “close relatives” (including, for example, aunts, uncles,cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba.

  * There is no limit on the duration of a visit to these “close relatives.”

  * There is no limit on the frequency of visits to these “close relatives.”

  * Authorized expenditure limits for travel within Cuba have been increased to match the expenditures allowed for all other authorized categories of travel to Cuba—specifically, the current State Department “per diem rate” for Havana (for use anywhere in Cuba) plus amounts for additional transactions directly incident to visiting close relatives in Cuba.  The current “maximum per diem rate” is $179.  For future updates to this rate, travelers may check the Department of State’s Office of Allowances web site.

  * Travelers may be accompanied by persons who share a common dwelling as a family with them. 

Remittances:

OFAC has also eased restrictions on remittances (including from inherited blocked accounts) to “close relatives” who are nationals of Cuba by issuing a general license.

  * Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States may send remittances to “close relatives” (including, as noted above, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba.  These amendments do not affect the prohibition on remittances to a “prohibited official of the Government of Cuba” or a “prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party,” as defined in the CACR.

  * There is no limit on the amount of such a remittance.

  * There is no limit on the frequency with which persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States may send such remittances.

  * Authorized family travelers may carry up to $3,000 of such remittances to Cuba.

  * Remittances for emigration-related purposes continue to be subject to separate restrictions.

  * Remittances may be made from depository institutions.  To facilitate this, depository institutions are permitted to set up testing arrangements and exchange authenticator keys with Cuban financial institutions.

Telecommunications:

Certain telecommunications services, contracts, related payments, and travel-related transactions are authorized by general licenses.  The CACR amendments ease the telecommunications rules in three broad areas, as well as allow travel-related transactions for the specific purpose of conducting business in all three areas.

  * Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may contract with and pay non-Cuban telecommunications services providers to provide services to particular individuals in Cuba (other than prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in the CACR).  For example, an individual in the United States may contract with and pay a U.S. or third-country telecommunications company to provide cellular telephone service for a phone owned and used by that individual’s friend in Cuba.  Moreover, a U.S. telecommunications services provider may enter into a contract with a particular individual in Cuba to provide telecommunications services to that individual.

  * Telecommunications services providers that are persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are generally licensed (1) to make payments incident to the provision of telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba and the provision of satellite radio or satellite television services to Cuba and (2) to enter into and perform (including making payments) under roaming services agreements with telecommunications services providers in Cuba.

  * Transactions incident to establishing facilities to provide telecommunications services linking the United States and Cuba, including fiber-optic cable and satellite facilities, are authorized by general license.  The Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce licenses the exportation and re-exportation of goods and technology for the establishment of telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.

  * Two general licenses have been added authorizing, with certain conditions, travel-related transactions incident to authorized telecommunications transactions.  One of these licenses authorizes, with certain conditions, travel transactions incident to the commercial export of telecommunications-related items that have been authorized by the Department of Commerce.  The second license authorizes travel transactions incident to participation in telecommunications-related professional meetings.

New general license for TSRA travel-related transactions:

The new amendments to the CACR also implement provisions of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009.  Pursuant to section 620 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, which amended the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), there is a new general license for travel-related transactions incident to agricultural and medical sales under TSRA.

  * This new general license authorizes, with certain conditions, travel-related transactions that are directly incident to the commercial marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices that appear consistent with the Department of Commerce’s export or reexport licensing policy.

  * A traveler may rely on this general license if he or she is regularly employed by a producer or distributor of the agricultural or medical items or by an entity duly appointed to represent such a producer or distributor, and if that traveler’s schedule of activities is consistent with a full work schedule.

  * Under the new general license, written reports must be submitted to OFAC at least 14 days before departure for Cuba and within 14 days of return.

According to CubaNews, these changes to the official regulations had not been published until now because the rules were “not simple to write” and the people charged with drafting them were also saddled with other responsibilities. The White House stated “This gets the U.S. government out of the business of regulating the separation of Cuban families” These changes take effect immediately.

More information on Cuba travel licenses and a comprehensive article from Reuters on these updated changes to OFAC rules.

—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

The Havana Journal offers Cuba Legal Services and more information about OFAC Cuba trade and travel restrictions.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 04, 2009 by John

    Unlimited transfer of funds from USA to relatives in Cuba is sure to be a real turning point, and the timing could not be better.
    Fidel has recently stated Obama’s “electoral victory would not have been possible without profound political and economical crisis” suggesting Obama was elected to office by a country in a state of desparation.
    Shame there is no vote in Cuba.
    At a time when Cubans are again being told to ‘harden up’ and deal with yet another series crushing restrictions, go without electricity, till the fields with oxen and exist on next to nothing, their glorious leader will soon discover he has no audience. All eyes and ears will be waiting for the next improvement in their lives to come from Washington.


  2. Follow up post #2 added on September 04, 2009 by BERNIE

    It is only the USA that has put restrictions on Cuba, majority of other countries
    freely trade and travel to Cuba?????
    Many Cubans have migrated to other countries than the USA and they are not
    restricted to sending money or traveling to Cuba???
    So what does that say about the policies of the USA goverment??  Do we really have sane leaders or just a bunch of egotists?????
    What good purpose came from the embargo all these years???


  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 05, 2009 by John

    Bernie,
    Majority of other countries are restricted in travel and trade with Cuba.
    An open market does not exist.
    Most foreign company investments in mining, tourism etc, do not greatly benifit the Cuban people, but greatly benefit the Cuban government.
    Cuban government allows tourism based business to be operated under direct control of Cuban government.
    Castro has a soft touch for Canada dating back to the liberal socialist days of Trudeau. Canadians have a preferential tourist treatment in Cuba.
    Cubans are not permitted to ‘migrate’ within Cuba, let alone other countries.
    However, on one point you are correct. The embargo is perhaps the biggest and longest lasting foreign policy failure in recent US history. 
    When Fidel dies he departs before the embargo ends. His only triumph.
    Let the rebuilding begin.


  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 08, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    John….
    bit fo clarification to a statement you made:
    name me some other of these “majority of countries” that restrict their citizens from visiting Cuba.  (or did I misread your statement?)


  5. Follow up post #5 added on September 08, 2009 by john

    Firstly, it would be more acurate to state most countries in the world, except the United States, allow their citizens to freely travel to Cuba as tourists.
    United States has a three class system; 1 Specialy licensed by the Treasury Department, 2 Cuban Americans, 3 all other American citizens and residents. The first two are pemitted to visit Cuba, all others are not.
    Secondly, Cuba does not have an immigration system, asylum for religious or political refugees, etc.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on September 09, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Money transfer agent The Western Union Co. said Wednesday it will implement new rules on sending money to Cuba.

    The new rules allow people in the U.S. to send money to “close relatives” in Cuba, including aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins who are Cuban nationals.

    The rules also remove the limit on the total amount and frequency of money sent to Cuba.

    The Englewood, Colo.-based company said the rules were issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control.

    Western Union has been providing money transfer services from the U.S. to Cuba since 1999, in accordance with OFAC laws. Western Union currently has 3,000 locations authorized to send Western Union money transfers from the U.S. to Cuba, and more than 100 Agent locations in Cuba.



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  7. Follow up post #7 added on September 09, 2009 by John

    I wonder if Fidel will impose a greedy ‘collection’ fee on the Cubans receiving money transfers? After all, the frequency and total amount is now unlimited, how can he resist?


  8. Follow up post #8 added on September 09, 2009 by Ivis Fundichely

    No one is talking about the fact that Cuban-Americans can no longer sent the 4 lb International package via the USPS.

    My family, and I assume many others have come to depend on the hygiene products and clothing that I’ve sent them every month for the last few years.

    The rule changes have obliterated these boxes. I heard on television that we’d be able to send medicine and food directly to Cuba, however, no one is telling us how to do this. There are no regulations on the USPS website, and nothing on the Treasury Department website either.  Can anyone clear this up for me? I am quite frustrated.


  9. Follow up post #9 added on September 09, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    There is no direct mail service from the US to Cuba. Didn’t know that you could send from USPS in the first place.

    Send via DHL.



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  10. Follow up post #10 added on September 09, 2009 by Ivis Fundichely

    Thank you, I didn’t know about DHL.  Yes, up until last week it was possible to send up to 4lbs via USPS through Panama or Mexico of course.

    I’ll check out DHL


  11. Follow up post #11 added on September 10, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    Pub:
    Do you know if anyone has ever tried a court challenge on the fact that Cuban-Americans can visit Cuba but non-Cuban Amerians can’t.  On teh surface seems like some challenge claiming that’s discrimitory could be possible.
    Btw, have noticed DHL offices in several Cuban cities. If I recall correctly though they’re quite expensive shipping to Cuba from Canada when I once looked up their rates.


  12. Follow up post #12 added on September 10, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The was somebody in Vermont a few years back that sued but I never heard anything so they dropped it or lost I would guess.

    It does seem like reverse discrimination to let Cuban Americans have more freedoms than non-Cuban Americans so maybe some group is planning a lawsuit.



    Cuba consulting services

  13. Follow up post #13 added on September 10, 2009 by Ivis Fundichely

    I checked out DHL. It is considerably more money. USPS was charging a little more than $8 per lb from NYC to Cuba.  For the same lbs DHL is almost $100


  14. Follow up post #14 added on September 10, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    just for curiousity, when using USPS, did your packages always get there?  One keeps hearing horror stories about packages and envelopes with money disappearing and not getting delivered.  Don’t know if exaggeration or not (hence the much higher courier rates that DHL charges)


  15. Follow up post #15 added on September 10, 2009 by Ivis Fundichely

    I was very lucky, my packages always got there. I only had one incident where there was some fake jewelry missing. I pretty much sent everything, clothing, books, wrapped presents, dried foodstuff, even a box of turrones last Christmas. I never sent money.

    I had one box arrive in 2 weeks once, the rest between 4 and 8 weeks. 

    I sent the last one a month ago and it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m hoping all these regulatory changes didn’t affect it.


  16. Follow up post #16 added on September 10, 2009 by john

    Under the new rules, if one lives in a common dwelling with Cuban americans, it is possible to travel with them to Cuba;
    * “Travelers may be accompanied by persons who share a common dwelling as a family with them”. 
    So, does this mean a Cuban American owner of an apartment building is now permitted to have all his tennants accompany him/her to Cuba?
    I agree with Manfredz, and if there is a lawyer brave enough to contest this unjust ‘law’, it could break the back of the situation.
    By the way, as far as I know, it was never unlawful to travel/visit Cuba, but unlawful to spend money (do business) with ‘the enemy’ whilst in Cuba. So, simply put, the general assumption that it was illegal to visit Cuba was a successful ‘intimidation’ exercise on the part of the US federal government.
    Uncle Sam did not want to financially support Cuba under Castro’s regime.


  17. Follow up post #17 added on September 10, 2009 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    i think they closed that “no spending” loophole a few years ago, so that as american you need an OFAC licence whether you spend money or not and as a tourist you’re not going to get one…
    Also thre’s a world of difference between sharing a common dwelling and landord/tenants relationship, so don’t think that would fly.
    Think the key until the law changes is how gung ho OFAC, US customs etc are in enforcing the current laws.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on September 10, 2009 by john

    Landlord/tenant situation is not what I meant. The point is, intentionally or unintentionally, a loophole is now in place, and as all loopholes go, it is open to interpretation and distortion.


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