Some Cuban Sanctions Relaxed in Lead Up to the Summit of the Americas

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Authorization for Travel to Certain Professional Meetings and Conferences in Cuba and Other Amendments; Standard Commercial Activity and Tourist Travel Remain Banned

In response to the Biden Administration’s May 16, 2022 announcement of limited relaxation of certain economic sanctions related to Cuba, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) published amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations in the Federal Register on June 9, 2022. The policy shift and regulatory amendments come as leaders from across the Americas gather this week in Los Angeles, California for the 9th Summit of the Americas.

In sum, the amendments include the following changes:

Authorizes group people-to-people educational travel to Cuba;

Removes certain restrictions on authorized academic educational activities;

Authorizes travel to attend or organize professional meetings or conferences in Cuba;

Removes the $1,000 quarterly limit on family remittances; and

Authorizes donative remittance to certain Cuban nationals who are not otherwise part of a prohibited group.

The amendments do not modify any other existing sanctions related to Cuba, nor do they authorize any standard commercial activity in Cuba or with Cuban entities. Furthermore, tourist travel to Cuba remains banned by statute.

Perhaps the most interesting amendment for the U.S. business community is the authorization for travel to attend or organize professional meetings or conferences in Cuba.  In its “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) published in conjunction with the amendments, OFAC cited examples of attending or organizing meetings and conferences to “support expanded internet access and remittance processing and to provide additional support and training to independent Cuban entrepreneurs” as examples of activity that would be authorized under this new general license.

While this would seem encouraging to those seeking to start or expand such professional activities in Cuba, a note of caution is in order given the complicated nature of Cuban sanctions generally, the fraught relationship between the U.S. and Cuban governments, the fact-intensive analysis needed under the regulations, and the untested nature of this new license.

New and updated FAQs based on the latest amendments can be found at the embedded links.

Individuals and companies looking to leverage this new authorization would be wise to seek skilled legal counsel in advance. Moreover, should your business operate in the Caribbean, a sanction compliance program may be in your company’s best interest to avoid any pitfalls.

For more information, please contact David Tayman at (202) 695-8147 or [email protected]; Katie Chaverri at (202) 695-8146 or [email protected]; or Christopher Chaisson at (202) 921-4080 or [email protected].

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice or create any form of attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied on as legal advice and is offered for general informational purposes only.