On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, the Trump Administration, via the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), announced it was amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) to further implement President Trump’s policy to deny the Cuban regime sources of revenue. This announcement continues the Trump Administration’s efforts to unwind many of the Obama Administration’s initiatives to ease sanctions and normalize relations with Cuba. These new restrictions, which became effective on September 24, follow the Administration’s previous measures announced in 2019 that targeted travel to Cuba from the United States.
These new sanctions present several noteworthy changes:
- Prohibited Accommodations: OFAC amended the CACR to prohibit any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction from “lodging, paying for lodging, or making any reservation for or on behalf of a third party to lodge, at any property in Cuba that the Secretary of State has identified as a property that is owned or controlled by the Cuban government, a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in 31 C.F.R. § 515.337, a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in 31 C.F.R. § 515.338, a close relative, as defined in 31 C.F.R. § 515.339, of a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, or a close relative of a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.” Concurrent with this change, the U.S. State Department is creating a new list, the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List (“CPA List”), to publish the names, addresses, and other relevant identifying details of properties subject to this prohibition. The list includes 433 properties that are owned or controlled by the Cuban regime or certain well-connected insiders. The CPA List is in addition to, and does not subsume, the existing Cuba Restricted List maintained by the State Department.
- Ban on Imports of Cuban-Origin Alcohol and Tobacco: OFAC amended four provisions of the CACR to effectively prohibit the importation into the United States of Cuban-origin alcohol and tobacco products.
- Restrictions on Professional Research and Professional Meetings in Cuba: OFAC amended the CACR to eliminate the general authorization in § 515.564(a)(2) for the “attendance at, or organization of, professional meetings or conferences in Cuba. These activities may be authorized via specific license on a case-by-case basis to the extent not authorized under other travel-related authorizations.”
- Restrictions on Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Athletic and Other Competitions, and Exhibitions: OFAC amended the CACR to eliminate the general authorization in § 515.567(b) for public performances, clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and exhibitions. The only athletic-related travel transactions authorized via general license in § 515.567 will now be in connection with amateur or semi-professional athletes or athletic teams as outlined in § 515.567(a).