Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance and Support to the Venezuelan People
Date: August 6, 2019
As the illegitimate former Maduro regime continues to usurp power and plunder assets that rightfully belong to the Venezuelan people, the United States has implemented Venezuela- related sanctions to preserve such assets for the Venezuelan people. These sanctions are designed to limit the Maduro regime’s sources of revenue and hold accountable those who stand in the way of restoring democracy in Venezuela, while also ensuring that the flow of humanitarian goods and services to the Venezuelan people is not prohibited by U.S. sanctions. The United States stands with the Venezuelan people and interim President Juan Guaidó in opposition to the Maduro regime.
In its administration of economic sanctions related to Venezuela, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is committed to ensuring that humanitarian support can flow to the people of Venezuela and that access to communications services critical to democracy is unfettered. To that end, OFAC maintains several authorizations to ensure that U.S. persons1 may continue to support the people of Venezuela. OFAC encourages U.S. persons to avail themselves of these authorizations. This guidance underscores that humanitarian assistance and activities to promote democracy are not the target of U.S. sanctions and are generally excepted from sanctions, so long as such activity meets the requirements outlined in each authorization. Likewise, sanctions do not prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions involving the country or people of Venezuela, provided blocked persons or proscribed conduct are not involved.2
Overview of Authorizations
U.S. persons are subject to a number of prohibitions regarding dealings with certain Venezuelan individuals and entities. OFAC’s regulations allow U.S. persons to continue to provide unimpeded humanitarian support to the Venezuelan people. This includes transactions through the U.S. financial system for authorized activity described below.3 For additional information, we encourage you to review OFAC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 519 and 665.
• Food, agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, and humanitarian items: General License 4C authorizes certain transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts and components for medical devices, or software updates for medical devices to Venezuela, or to persons in third countries purchasing specifically for resale to Venezuela. Likewise, Executive Order of August 5, 2019, which blocks the property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela, does not prohibit transactions involving the Government of Venezuela that relate to the provision of articles such as food, clothing, and medicine intended to be used to relieve human suffering. Those involved in exports or reexports related to these authorizations should also consult the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to ensure eligibility of exportation or reexportation under its authorities.
• Remittances: General License 16B authorizes all transactions and activities ordinarily incident and necessary to processing noncommercial, personal remittances involving certain financial institutions. As of August 5, 2019, these financial institutions include Banco de Venezuela, S.A. Banco Universal (Banco de Venezuela), Banco Bicentenario del Pueblo, de la Clase Obrera, Mujer y Comunas, Banco Universal C.A. (Banco Bicentario del Pueblo), Banco del Tesoro, C.A. Banco Universal (Banco del Tesoro), and Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV). In addition, remittances with non-blocked Venezuelan financial institutions are not prohibited.
• International organizations: General License 20A authorizes official activities of certain international organizations such as the United Nations, including its Programmes and Funds, and its Specialized Agencies and Related Organizations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, among others, to engage in transactions involving BCV, or involving other Government of Venezuela persons to the extent the transactions are subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
• Telecommunications and mail: General License 24 authorizes transactions involving the Government of Venezuela incident to the receipt and transmission of telecommunications, as well as transactions of common carriers involving the Government of Venezuela incident to the receipt or transmission of mail and packages between the United States and Venezuela. Those involved in exports or reexports related to this authorization should consult the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to ensure eligibility of exportation or reexportation under its authorities.
• Internet: General License 25 authorizes the exportation or reexportation, directly or indirectly, from the United States or by U.S. persons, wherever located, to or involving the Government of Venezuela of services, software, hardware, and technology incident to the exchange of communications over the Internet, such as instant messaging, chat and email, social networking, sharing of photos and movies, web browsing, blogging, web hosting, and domain name registration services. Those involved in exports or reexports related to this authorization should consult the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to ensure eligibility of exportation or reexportation under its authorities.
• Medical services: General License 26 authorizes the provision and receipt of nonscheduled emergency medical services and the provision of other medical services involving the Government of Venezuela.
• Nongovernmental organizations: General License 29 authorizes nongovernmental organizations to engage in transactions involving the Government of Venezuela in support of humanitarian projects, democracy building, education, non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Venezuelan people, and environmental protection in Venezuela.
Statement of Licensing Policy
For transactions not otherwise authorized by OFAC general licenses, OFAC maintains a long- standing, favorable specific licensing policy supporting the provision of humanitarian assistance through which U.S. persons can request OFAC approval for such transactions. OFAC considers specific licenses on a case-by-case basis and prioritizes license applications, compliance questions, and other requests related to humanitarian support for the Venezuelan people.
If you have any questions regarding the scope of any Venezuela-related sanctions requirements, or the applicability or scope of any humanitarian-related general license, please contact OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.