U.S. tightens Cuba sanctions once again


New Treasury Department regulations will limit remittances to Cuba to no more than $4,000 per year per person.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC, enforces U.S. sanctions against Cuba. The new rules , scheduled to be published on Sept. 9, state:

OFAC is amending § 515.570(a), which authorizes family remittances, to place a cap of $1,000 as the maximum amount that one remitter can send per quarter to one Cuban national as a family remittance.

The new regulations will also ban remittances to “close family members” of Cuban government or Communist Party officials. The rules state:

Section 515.570(a) provides that the recipient of family remittances may not be a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in § 515.337, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in § 515.338. OFAC is now amending § 515.570(a) to prohibit remitters from sending remittances to close family members, as defined in § 515.339, of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.

The regulations place no limits on the amount of money that can be sent to Cuban businesses or non-governmental organizations, stating:

…In light of NSPM-5’s policy 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.

NSPM-5 is National Security Presidential Memorandum 5: Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement:

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. 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.

On the face of it, restricting remittances to Cuban families undercuts Mnuchin’s stated desire to support the Cuban people. Defenders of U.S. policy have told me sanctions may hurt ordinary Cubans now, but if the socialist government falls, then most Cubans will benefit in the long run.
Cuban government officials say the U.S. effort will fail. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said on Twitter:

The #US blame us for their failure to force the overthrowing of the Bolivarian government & shamelessly lie to justify the implementation of new aggressive measures against #Cuba. They will never break the will of Cubans. The universal rejection against the blockade will grow.
I strongly reject the implementation of measures announced by the #US in April aimed at reinforcing the blockade and economic siege against #Cuba. This opportunistic attempt to divide Cubans will fail.

For more information about the new rules, see Treasury Department’s 35-page Frequently Asked Questions about Cuba sanctions.

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