The United States stands with the Cuban people in their quest for democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. In July 2021, tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to make these demands of their government. In response to these protests, the Cuban regime reacted with violence and repression, including by implementing measures to curb the flow of information over the internet in Cuba.1 These actions continue a decades-long history of oppression by the regime, and a track record of failing to respect the basic universal rights of the Cuban population.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) administer a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba, consistent with applicable legislation. While most transactions between persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and Cuba continue to be prohibited under the embargo, the U.S. government allows for certain activities to support the Cuban people’s access to information on the internet. The relevant OFAC regulations can be found in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), which are available here. The relevant BIS regulations can be found in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), 15 C.F.R. parts 730- 774, which are available here.
Accordingly, and in view of recent events, OFAC and BIS are issuing this fact sheet to emphasize the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting the ability of the Cuban people to seek, receive, and impart information, by highlighting the most relevant exemptions and authorizations pertinent to supporting the Cuban people through the provision of certain internet and related telecommunications services.2 In the event that individuals, entities, or governments face sanctions-related challenges in providing such assistance, have questions regarding the application of the exemptions or authorizations, or believe additional authorizations are needed, OFAC and BIS stand ready to engage with those stakeholders to provide guidance and respond to applications for specific licenses.
1 As outlined by the White House on July 22, 2021, the United States calls on Cuba’s leaders to reinstate and to maintain access to all internet and telecommunications services for all people within Cuba’s borders. Please see the White House Fact Sheet on Biden-Harris Administration Measures on Cuba here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/22/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration- measures-on-cuba/.
2 This Fact Sheet is informational, does not have the force of law, and does not supersede any relevant statutes, Executive Orders, or regulations, including the legal provisions cited. The information herein is current and operative as of the date of publication of this Fact Sheet, unless or until modified.