Archive for the ‘Cuba Sanctions’ Category


Mar

25

Dead Cubans Removed from SDN List; Fictional Daniel Garcia Stays On


Posted by at 10:02 pm on March 25, 2015
Category: Cuba SanctionsOFACSDN List

Cuba Capitole by y.becart(Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/yoh_59/13697566663Yesterday the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) quietly removed a number of Cuba-related listings from its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list. These delistings included dissolved companies, dead people and Cuban ships that had either sunk or were out of commission. For example, Amado Padron Trujillo, designated in 1986,was executed in 1989. By Cuba. For treason. Talk about a guy who couldn’t get a break.

Also delisted was the late Alfred Stern, who was once accused of spying for the Soviet Union. He fled the United States, lived in Cuba from 1963 to 1970 and died in Prague in 1986. Another dead man taken off the SDN List was Carlos Duque, a business partner of Manuel Noriega, who stopped threatening the United States when he died last October.

Even though OFAC delisted dead people and sunken ships from the SDN List, it still could not bring itself to delist the probably fictional Daniel Garcia, who allegedly threatens the United States by running a non-existent talent agency, Promociones Artisticas (PROARTE), in Mexico City. The problem with designating a non-existent Daniel Garcia is that there are plenty of real people named Daniel Garcia who, as a result, cannot open bank accounts, get loans, buy automobiles, or get on an airplane without getting searched. We wrote about the curse of being named Daniel Garcia here.

I have been told, off the record, that no one at OFAC knows who Daniel Garcia is or was, if he ever was, and why he was put on the list in the first place. That, I’m told, is part of the reason that Daniel Garcia is fated to remain on the SDN List in perpetuity.

In short, since imaginary people never die, the real Daniel Garcias of the world are just going to have to live with it.

Permalink Comments (2)

Bookmark and Share



Mar

17

Sailing to Cuba on the General License May Not Be Smooth Sailing


Posted by at 11:51 pm on March 17, 2015
Category: Cuba SanctionsOFAC

Charlotte under full sale by Nat Benjamin [Fair Use]Here’s a bad idea: apply to the Office of Foreign Assets Control for a license to sail from Martha’s Vineyard to Cuba, have it denied, apply again, never hear back, then decide to go anyway and have the Martha’s Vineyard Times publish a story on your trip. Well, that’s what a guy named Nat Benjamin did and you can read all about it here in the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Although he timing of the trip is not entirely clear, it appears that Benjamin, who set sail for Cuba in November 2014, arrived in Cienfuegos, Cuba, perhaps luckily for him and his crew, after the new Cuban sanctions rules went into effect on January 15, 2015. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Times article. Mr. Benjamin decided to head for Cuba without the license required at the time of his departure “in hopes that the humanitarian nature of his trip would trump any troubles.”

The question then is whether Mr. Benjamin’s trip fits within the new general license for humanitarian visits set forth in section 515.575 of the Cuban sanctions regulations.

While in Cuba, Mr. Benjamin traveled throughout the country and shared his boatbuilding experience. He was able to contact wooden boatbuilders in the Cuban city of Trinidad.

Mr. Benjamin said Cuba’s wooden boatbuilding industry is not well known outside the country. He partnered with some boatbuilders, hoping to learn about their work, and donated much-needed tools.

Section 515.575 sets forth fairly specifically the sorts of projects that qualify as humanitarian projects, and learning about the work of Cuban boatbuilders, seems to be on the outside edges at best. Here’s what is permitted:

The following projects are authorized by paragraph (a) of this section: medical and health-related projects; construction projects intended to benefit legitimately independent civil society groups; environmental projects; projects involving formal or non-formal educational training, within Cuba or off-island, on the following topics: entrepreneurship and business, civil education, journalism, advocacy and organizing, adult literacy, or vocational skills; community-based grassroots projects; projects suitable to the development of small-scale private enterprise; projects that are related to agricultural and rural development that promote independent activity; microfinancing projects, except for loans, extensions of credit, or other financing prohibited by §515.208; and projects to meet basic human needs.

Maybe this was non-formal educational training on vocational skills, but, even if it does, Mr. Benjamin also needs to be able to prove that he and everyone else devoted a full-time schedule in Cuba to these activities. Having set sail for Cuba before the new sanctions were in effect and with only a vague humanitarian purpose, Mr. Benjamin may not be able to provide this documentation. Perhaps Mr. Benjamin, his wife and his crew are in the clear on this, but this illustrates the potential difficulty in relying on the new general licenses for travel to Cuba without careful preparation and documentation.

Permalink Comments (0)

Bookmark and Share



Mar

9

Slow Boat From China: Keep Cuba in Arms Evermore


Posted by at 5:23 pm on March 9, 2015
Category: Arms ExportChinaCuba Sanctions

Da Dan Xia Weapons Cache by Colombia Prosecutor's Office [Fair Use]Colombia recently detained the Chinese vessel Da Dan Xia after it entered the port of Cartagena to unload part of its cargo. Based on an anonymous tip, Colombian officials searched the boat and found a boatload, so to speak, of weapons: 100 tons of gunpowder, just under three million detonators, 99 projectiles and approximately 3,000 cannon shells. All destined for Cuba. The ship’s documentation listed none of these goodies correctly, instead calling them spare parts and chemicals, and so the captain of the ship was hauled off the boat and arrested.

The Cubans aren’t saying anything and the Chinese are saying stupid things.

China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the ship had been involved in “normal trade co-operation”. Hua Chunying said the ship was carrying ordinary military supplies to Cuba and was not in violation of any international obligations.

Of course, this does not explain why the items were not accurately described. But I can tell you the likely reason for that: Colombia is a signatory to the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material. That means that a transit permit would have been required for the ship to enter a Colombian port loaded up with this cargo. And, guess what? China did not want to bother getting a transit permit, largely, I suppose, because it did not want the United States, or anyone else, to know that it was selling this stuff to Cuba.

Permalink Comments Off

Bookmark and Share



Feb

11

House of Castro: Francis Underwood Goes to Havana


Posted by at 11:15 pm on February 11, 2015
Category: Cuba SanctionsOFAC

Netflix HQ by Coolcaesar at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANetflix_headquarters.jpg [Cropped]Netflix just announced that it was going to offer its streaming service in Cuba, starting at $7.99 per month. Of course, under the information exception of the Berman Amendment, Netflix has always been able to stream its movies to Cuba without violating U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

Of course, as you might imagine, the reason that Netflix did not start streaming to Cuba earlier was the difficulty Netflix would have in getting paid. Now that the revisions to the Cuba sanctions have opened up the possibility for American credit card companies to do business in Cuba, payment becomes at least a theoretical possibility. Theoretical because $7.99 per month is out of reach of most Cubans given the average monthly wage of $17 and given the cost of Internet in Cuba where access to international sites, like Netflix, costs $4 per hour. Watching a two-hour movie on Netflix would leave about $1 to spend for rent, food and all other monthly expenses. (And you thought going to the movies at the local cineplex was expensive!)

The Netflix press release notes that “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” will both be made available to Cuban subscribers. So, my question is this: which of these two will Fidel and Raúl binge watch first? The political machinations of Francis Underwood in “House of Cards” or the comic prison shenanigans of the women in “Orange is the New Black?”

Permalink Comments (1)

Bookmark and Share



Jan

29

The Case of the Missing Cuba Embargo Regulations


Posted by at 9:25 pm on January 29, 2015
Category: BISCrimea SanctionsCuba SanctionsOFAC

Cuba Capitole by y.becart(Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/yoh_59/13697566663The recent OFAC amendments to the Cuba embargo regulations, and related statements by OFAC, went to great pains to make clear that, notwithstanding these changes, the embargo was still in place. That being said, it is somewhat perplexing that the Cuba Assets Control Regulations have disappeared, or at least most of the Cuba Assets Control Regulations have disappeared from OFAC’s website.

If you go to OFAC’s page on the Cuba sanctions, and then scroll down to the bottom, you will see under “Code of Federal Regulations” a link for “31 CFR Part 515 – Cuban Assets Control Regulations.” Click on that link, and it will take you here, which is the Federal Register notice with just the amended regulations. The other regulations are nowhere to be found. Maybe OFAC did repeal the Cuba embargo after all?

In another example of epic Web fail, BIS today promulgated new regulations relating to the Crimea Sanctions, which can be found here in the Federal Register. But if you go to the BIS website, the new rules are nowhere to be found. They are not mentioned in the slider at the top listing other current developments. They are not even mentioned in the BIS Newsroom where the latest entry is — seriously — July 22, 2014. What? No news at all for 6 months??

As to the new Crimea regulations themselves, I am not at all sure what they mean. I’ll post on them once I figure that out.

Permalink Comments (1)

Bookmark and Share