As the Trump administration continues to work on rules to implement its new Cuba policy, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued clarifications Tuesday on the U.S. interim policy.
When President Donald Trump announced his new policy for the island in Miami on June 16, OFAC said that the only category of authorized travel by U.S. travelers that would be affected were individual people-to-people trips. Trump said such trips would be prohibited because travelers have used that category to disguise trips that are purely for tourism, which the U.S. prohibits.
But in its new “Frequently Asked Questions” publication, OFAC says: “The new policy will also impact certain categories of educational travel as well as travel under support for the Cuban people.” It didn’t elaborate.
The new policy will also impact certain categories of educational travel as well as travel under support for the Cuban people.
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The new FAQ also made it clear that people traveling to Cuba legally under permitted travel categories wouldn’t have to apply for licenses. Until the new rules are published, U.S. travelers may continue to visit Cuba under 12 categories of permissible travel that were outlined during the Obama administration.
There isn’t a specific date yet for release of the new regulations, according to Treasury.
The updated OFAC publication also stated that the definition of “prohibited members of the Cuban government” has been expanded and that “may exclude certain persons from receipt of ... remittances.”
The memorandum on strengthening Cuba policy that Trump signed in Miami expanded the list of prohibited persons from members of the Council of Ministers, which includes the president, and high-ranking military officials to also include members and employees of many other government entities including:
▪ The National Assembly of People’s Power — Cuba’s parliament
▪ Provincial assembly members
▪ Local heads of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution
▪ Directors general, sub-directors and higher officers of all Cuban ministries and state agencies
▪ Employees of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense
▪ Members and employees of Cuba’s Supreme Court
The memo also lists secretaries and first secretaries of the Confederation of Labor of Cuba and top editors of all state-run media outlets as prohibited officials.
The June memorandum didn’t specifically address whether these people could receive remittances, but the FAQ makes it clear that at least some of them may be excluded.
If all of the Cubans who fall into the new prohibited category were barred from receiving remittances, William LeoGrande, an American University professor of government, estimates that it could potentially include a quarter of Cuba’s labor force or around 1 million people.
The new FAQ also clarified that U.S. businesses that have contingent or other types of contractual agreements with the Cuban government that were agreed to prior to the time the new regulations come out will be allowed to continue with their transactions. After new regulations are issued, the Trump policy will bar any new direct transactions with any entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence or security services.
Until the new regulations are released, the Obama-era rules on Cuba remain in effect.
Follow Mimi Whitefield on Twitter: @HeraldMimi