Sanctions Regulations

Publication of Amended Venezuela Sanctions Regulations

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 591, to incorporate additional Executive orders, add a general license authorizing U.S. Government activities, and add an interpretive provision.  This regulatory amendment is currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on November 22, 2019. 

Links:

OFAC Notice

Amended Venezuela Sanctions Regulations

At the request of the Secretary of State, the U.S. Department of Transportation suspended until further notice scheduled air service between the United States and Cuban international airports other than Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport to prevent the Cuban regime from profiting from U.S. air travel. U.S. air carriers will have 45 days to discontinue all scheduled air service between the United States and all airports in Cuba, except for Jose Marti International Airport.

In line with the President’s foreign policy toward Cuba, this action prevents revenue from reaching the Cuban regime that has been used to finance its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its support for Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. In suspending flights to a total of nine airports, the United States impedes the Cuban regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travelers staying in its state-controlled resorts, visiting state-owned attractions, and otherwise contributing to the Cuban regime’s coffers near these airports.

United States continues to hold Cuba accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, and its interference in Venezuela, including its unconscionable support of the illegitimate Maduro regime. The human rights situation in Cuba remains abysmal, with state authorities harassing and arbitrarily jailing activists, dissidents, artists, and others questioning regime authority with impunity. Despite widespread international condemnation, Maduro continues to undermine his country’s institutions and subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination. Empowered by Cuba, Maduro has created a humanitarian disaster that destabilizes the region.

For more information on the suspension of these scheduled flights, please refer to the Notice posted in the federal docket management system at www.regulations.gov in dockets: DOT-OST-2016-002, DOT-OST-2016-0226, and DOT-OST-1998-20.

further information, please contact WHA Press at WHA_Press@state.gov.

Link:

State Department Media Note

The State Department is imposing visa restrictions under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(3)(C) on Cuban officials responsible for certain exploitative and coercive labor practices as part of Cuba’s overseas medical missions program.  Profiting from the work of the Cuban doctors has been the decades-long practice of the Castros, and it continues today.  These practices include requiring long work hours without rest, meager wages, unsafe housing, and restricted movement. The regime has also withheld passports and surveilled some doctors outside of work.  In addition, the regime has also compelled some Cuban doctors to use medical care as a political tool by providing care in exchange for pledges of loyalty.

Any health program that coerces, endangers, and exploits its own practitioners is fundamentally flawed.  We call on governments that currently engage with Cuba’s overseas medical programs to ensure safeguards against labor abuse and exploitation.

Link:

State Department press release

The Department is publicly designating Raul Modesto Castro Ruz, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and General of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.  Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members.  In addition to the public designation of Raul Castro, the Department is also publicly designating his children, Alejandro Castro Espin, Deborah Castro Espin, Mariela Castro Espin, and Nilsa Castro Espin.

As First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro oversees a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and currently holds more than 100 political prisoners.  As General of Cuba’s Armed Forces, Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation, and repression.  In concert with Maduro’s military and intelligence officers, members of the Cuban security forces have been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torture.  Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis, forcing 15 percent of the Venezuelan population to flee the country and precipitating a food shortage and health crisis of unprecedented scale in this region.

The United States strongly supports the rights of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.  We will continue to pursue all diplomatic and economic tools to help the Venezuelan people achieve the transition they deserve.

You have to wonder why the US government did this – they know it has minimal effect, if any. Is it just to show they’re being tough?

Link:

State Department Press Release

Today, the President announced a Presidential Proclamation restricting entry into the United States for senior Iranian government officials and members of their families.  For years, Iranian officials and their family members have quietly taken advantage of America’s freedom and prosperity, including excellent educational, employment, entertainment, and cultural opportunities in the United States.  Under this proclamation, designated senior regime officials and their families will no longer be allowed entry into the United States.  No longer will elites reap the benefits of a free society while the Iranian people suffer under the regime’s corruption and mismanagement.

This Presidential Proclamation is per the authority vested in the President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1182 (f) and 1185 (a)) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code.

The Government of Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The regime has destabilized the Persian Gulf region with attacks on oil and shipping infrastructure.  Their support for the Houthis in Yemen and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria contribute to the regional instability and the humanitarian crises in those countries. The Iranian regime continues to suppress members of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, as well as unjustly detaining foreign citizens to perpetuate their foreign policy aims.

America will no longer allow senior Iranian regime officials or their family members to continue to travel to the United States while their people suffer.

Link:

State Department statement

Publication of Updated Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), to further implement portions of the President’s foreign policy toward Cuba.  In accordance with announced changes related to remittances and certain kinds of financial transactions, OFAC is amending the CACR to: i) revise certain authorizations for remittances to Cuba to impose new requirements and limitations; and ii) revise the authorization commonly known as the “U-turn” general license to eliminate the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain kinds of financial transactions.  The CACR amendment will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, September 9, 2019 and will take effect on October 9, 2019.  OFAC is also publishing a number of updated Frequently Asked Questions and a Fact Sheet pertaining to this regulatory amendment.

The updated FAQs are part of that separate Cuba FAQ document (as opposed to being on OFAC’s FAQ page).

And Treasury issued a press release, which appears to be identical to the Fact Sheet:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Issues Changes to Strengthen Cuba Sanctions Rules

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba.  The changes amend certain authorizations related to the provision of remittances to Cuba and eliminate the authorization for specific financial transactions known as “U-turn” transactions.

“We are taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime.  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,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “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.”

These actions mark an ongoing commitment to implement the President’s Cuba policy.  Previously, on June 5, 2019, OFAC further restricted non-family travel to Cuba by removing an authorization for group people-to-people educational travel, pursuant to an April 17, 2019 foreign policy announcement.  The Treasury changes announced today will take effect on October 9, 2019, which is 30 days from the date the regulations will be published in the Federal Register.

For the latest changes to the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 515.  Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:

REMITTANCES

                                                                              

  • Family remittances:  OFAC is placing a cap of $1,000 U.S. dollars per quarter that one remitter can send per quarter to one Cuban national, and is prohibiting remittances to close family members of prohibited Cuban officials and members of the Cuban Communist Party.

 

  • Donative remittances:  OFAC is eliminating the authorization for donative remittances.  

 

  • Remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba:  OFAC is adding a provision authorizing such remittances to support the operation of economic activity in the non-state sector by self-employed individuals, in light of the NSPM’s policy to encourage the growth of the Cuban private sector independent of government control.
     

 “U-TURN” TRANSACTIONS

 

  • OFAC is removing the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain funds transfers originating and terminating outside the United States, commonly known as “U-turn” transactions.  Banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be authorized to reject such transactions, but may no longer process the transactions.

And the State Department didn’t want to be left out of the fun:

Today, the Department of the Treasury took action to prevent U.S. remittances to Cuba from enriching Cuban regime insiders and their families and to restrict Cuba’s access to the U.S. financial system.

Going forward, U.S. persons are no longer allowed to send family remittances to close relatives of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or close relatives of prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.  U.S. persons will also no longer be allowed to send donative remittances, or remittances regardless of familial relationships, to Cuba.

In line with the President’s foreign policy on Cuba, these actions are designed to target the Cuban regime while continuing to provide vital relief to the long-suffering people of Cuba.  As National Security Advisor Bolton said in April, “we know that families in the United States want to help their loved ones in Cuba, and we want Cubans to get the support they need and deserve…we know that these remittances are critical to families.”  For this reason, remittances to support family members are permitted up to $1,000 per quarter per person, and remittances to private businesses, human rights groups, religious organizations, and other self-employed individuals operating in the non-state sector are authorized with no cap at this time.

The Department of the Treasury also restricted the Cuban regime’s access to the U.S. financial system by eliminating authorization for what are commonly known as “U-turn” transactions, funds transfers that originate and terminate outside the U.S. where neither the originator nor beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The United States continues to hold Cuba accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, its interference in Venezuela, and its unconscionable support of the illegitimate former Maduro regime.  Despite widespread international condemnation, Maduro continues to undermine his country’s institutions and subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.  Empowered by Cuba, he has created a humanitarian disaster that destabilizes the region.

For more information on the regulations, please refer to the following Department of the Treasury page:

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/cuba.aspx

For further information, please contact WHA Press at WHA_Press@state.gov and EB Press at EB-A-PD-DL@state.gov.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Cuban Assets Control Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheet

Treasury Press Release

State Department Press Release

Publication of Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing regulations to implement Executive Order 13851 of November 27, 2018 (“Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua”).  These regulations are currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on September 4, 2019.  OFAC intends to supplement this part 582 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations