Did you know that the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additional changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba implemented on October 9? On September 6th, the Trump Administration announced measures to increase economic pressure on the Cuban military regime. This follows past policy changes President Trump has taken to sanction the Cuban government for its daily human rights abuses against the Cuban people and abroad. Earlier this year, the President restricted non-family travel to Cuba by removing the travel exemption category of “people-to-people” travel to the island.
Historically, people-to-people travel was recognized by the U.S. government as educational travel conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction to promote contact between American and Cuban citizens. At the core of the new announcement, the policy seeks to block funding to the Cuban government by eliminating U-turn transactions and donative remittances, and cap and restrict remittances to $1,000 per quarter. Here are the detailed changes:
- The new policies seek to place a cap on the remittance amounts per quarter that one remitter can send to one Cuban national.
- The new restriction is also prohibiting remittances to close family members of prohibited Cuban officials and members of the Cuban Communist Party. At the same time, in efforts to encourage the growth of a Cuban private sector independent of government control, OFAC is amending 515.570(g), which authorizes unlimited remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba, to add a provision to authorize unlimited remittances to certain additional self-employed individuals. OFAC is adding a definition for qualifying self-employed individuals in § 515.340.
- OFAC removed the authorization to process “U-Turn” transactions for banks; this means banking institutions are no longer allowed to process funds transfers originating and terminating outside of the U.S. provided that neither the originator nor the beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
“We are taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States holds the Cuban regime accountable for its oppression of the Cuban people and support of other dictatorships throughout the region, such as the illegitimate Maduro regime.” “Through these regulatory amendments, Treasury is denying Cuba access to hard currency, and we are curbing the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba,” Mnuchin added.