President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will now reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies in their respective capitals. The announcement comes just one month after the Secretary of State removed Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list. Although it would take an act of Congress to lift the trade embargo, reopening embassies is another brick in the foundation of normalizing trade relations. With the new embassies opening in July, there will be greater contact between the US and the Cuban people which will ultimately lead to a change in the US’s attitude towards the trade embargo.
As you know, the President made a big announcement back in December, 2014 that the US would take historic steps to chart a new course in our diplomatic relations with Cuba. One specific action item was instructing the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and provide a report to the President within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism.
Within four months of the President’s announcement, on April 8, 2015 (2 months early!), the Secretary of State finalized their review and recommended that Cuba no longer be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Thereafter, on April 14, the President sent Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that “Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Members of Congress, initially vowing to block the removal of Cuba from the “terrorism list” had no legal outlet to voice their opposition, and as of today, the 45-day Congressional pre-notification period has expired. As a result, the Secretary of State has officially made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, effective today, May 29, 2015.
The Department of State issued a Press Statement today advising that:
The rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission. While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation
Today, a final rule, opening U.S. trade with Cuba, was published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Through this Federal Register notice, OFAC has amended its Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the BIS has amended the Export Administration Regulations with a “Support for the Cuban People” license exception. This final rule is effective today, with proposed rulemaking, opportunity for public participation, and delay in effective date deemed inapplicable because this regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the U.S.
Cuban cigars will not be readily available for U.S. consumers to purchase as a result of these changes.
Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (the “CACR”), which will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, January 16, 2015, at which time the changes will take effect. Continue Reading
President Obama announced that the U.S. will lay out “a new course in our relations with Cuba.” This could mean new changes for very specific sectors at first – travel, financial services, telecom/communications, and companies that make and sell building materials and agricultural equipment. The current Sanctions in place will be eased for those engaged in trade and commerce. Does this mean that Cuban cigars will be readily available for U.S. consumers? No. The specific details of how this will occur are not in place yet, however they should be in the coming weeks. This does not mean the Sanctions imposed by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations issued in 1963 will end (that would take Congressional approval), they will just be eased in the following ways. Read on for the full details. Continue Reading
International travelers often contact me with the same distraught face as the man pictured to my left, after their money is confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a result of not properly declaring currency on hand.
Declaration Form 6059B will look familiar to all international travelers as you fill it out when entering the U.S. Many times, the rationale for seizure is that parties traveling together split their currency, and even though together they have over the $10,000 minimum, the travelers advise they are each carrying less then the $10,000 minimum requirement for reporting (in question 13 of Form 6059B), resulting in ALL of the currency on hand being seized. On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency.
Recently, CBP seized $82,000 of currency, and arrested the female driver, after discovering three packages of bulk currency hidden within a vehicle as a female driver attempted to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico.
During this holiday season, this post will tell you what you need to know to assure it’s NOT YOU that has their currency seized when traveling internationally!