A similar relaxation to the Cuban sanctions was seen during President Obama’s administration, when OFAC allowed transactions for travel relating to agriculture or medical sales and certain other types of business, telecommunications, personal remittances, family visits to Cuba and the use of U.S. dollars for some transactions.
Moreover, the export control restrictions on Cuba were eased in part when certain categories of licenses were made available by the Bureau of Industry and Security under a general policy of approval.
In addition, in 2015, President Obama removed Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST).
Many of these restrictions were later reimposed by the Trump Administration, when he implemented a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Cuban government. These actions included suspending U.S. flights to Cuban cities outside of Havana, blocking U.S. travelers from staying at properties owned by the Cuban government, restricting imports of Cuban tobacco and alcohol, and eliminating people-to-people travel to Cuba, as well as once again restricting the use of U.S. dollars. The U.S. State Department also re-designated Cuba as an SST in January 2021, with Cuba once again becoming ineligible to receive U.S. foreign aid, munitions, and certain dual-use items.
OFAC’s final rule on Cuba, which once again relaxed many of the sanctions, became effective upon publication in the Federal Register on June 9, 2022. Simultaneously, OFAC also published several new and updated FAQs.
Since the early 1960s, the United States has maintained a near-comprehensive embargo on Cuba. Since July 8, 1963, U.S. sanctions on Cuba have been generally implemented through the CACR and presidential executive orders. Subject to certain narrow exceptions outlined by OFAC, U.S. sanctions against Cuba prohibit persons “subject to U.S. jurisdiction” from engaging in nearly all direct or indirect trade, investment, or other activities involving the country, Cuban property, or Cuban nationals. In this context, “subject to U.S. jurisdiction” includes U.S. citizens and permanent residents, entities organized under the laws of the United States and their foreign branches, non-U.S. entities owned or controlled by the foregoing, and persons physically located in the United States regardless of their citizenship or residency status. While non-U.S. persons must avoid the use of U.S. dollars or U.S. banks for transactions related to Cuba, and must not facilitate or export/re-export controlled U.S.-origin goods to Cuba, the United States has not imposed secondary sanctions against Cuba.