The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement sanctions on Cuba. The changes now ban importing Cuba-origin tobacco and alcohol products including premium cigars and rum from visitors.
Other changes include restrictions on lodging at certain properties in Cuba owned by the Cuban government, attending or organizing professional meetings or conferences in Cuba; and participating in and organizing certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba.
Back in December 2014, President Barack Obama took some steps designed to improve relations between the United States and Cuba and ultimately start a process that would end the U.S. Embargo with Cuba. A lifting of the Embargo still requires an act of Congress, so while the Embargo wasn’t ended, President Obama used Executive Powers to ease some restrictions on travel and trade. This included allowing U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba under 12 authorized categories– and taking a series of steps that allowed U.S. citizens to first bring back $100 in cigars and rum from Cuba, then removing the limits entirely on bringing back any amount of Cuban cigars or rum from abroad.
Upon taking office, President Donald Trump has gradually begun to roll back many of the Obama directives. The initial rollbacks did not effect tobacco or alcohol, but has since made it more difficult to travel to Cuba compared to things under the Obama directives.
“The Cuban regime has been redirecting revenue from authorized U.S. travel for its own benefit, often at the expense of the Cuban people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a press release. “This Administration is committed to denying Cuba’s oppressive regime access to revenues used to fund their malign activities, both at home and abroad.”
These regulatory amendments will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.