Flag of CubaPresident Trump today announced changes to U.S.-Cuban sanctions policy which will reverse amendments made by the Obama administration in 2015 and 2016 intended to normalize relations with Cuba. President Trump stated that these changes will include eliminating unsponsored individual travel under the “people-to-people” program and restricting transactions with Cuban military, intelligence and security agencies. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security have not yet revised their rules to formally implement today’s announced policy changes, however OFAC has provided preliminary FAQ guidance. According to OFAC, today’s announced changes will not become effective until the new regulations are issued.

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Flag of CubaThe U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) recently announced additional rule amendments intended to continue improving relations between the United States and Cuba by allowing even greater commerce and humanitarian efforts between the two countries. These new OFAC  and BIS  rules take effect today.  The new amendments build on previous amendments which Husch Blackwell LLP’s Technology Manufacturing & Transportation Industry Insider blog summarized here, here, and here.
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Flag of CubaU.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx was among the passengers aboard the historic flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba today as JetBlue provided the first regularly scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba in 55 years. Scheduled air service from the United States to Cuba is the most recent step in a string of important changes in the normalization of relations between the two nations.  As a result of these changes, which have been previously reported on here, a U.S. embassy was opened, direct mail service has been restored, Carnival cruise line has begun trips to Cuba and various regulatory changes have been made to ease travel, trade and financial transactions with Cuba.
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Flag of CubaCuba’s Minister of Agriculture, Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, made an official visit to the U.S. last week together with a delegation of officials from other Cuban ministries.  Minister Rollero’s visit was preceded by a February 2016 visit from Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba’s Foreign Trade Minister.  These visits marked the first U.S. visits from senior Cuban government officials in over 50 years.  President Obama, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon have also made their own historic visits to Cuba within recent months.  Secretary Vilsack’s visit included a meeting in Havana to sign a Memorandum of Understanding  (the “MOU”) between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture enabling the two agencies to cooperate in fields such as phytosanitary standards, plant and animal sanitation, organic production methods, climatology and irrigation through collaborative efforts such as information exchange and scientific research.

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Shortly before President Obama’s upcoming visit to Cuba, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) and U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control North America Map(“OFAC”) have released new rule amendments in order to permit increased travel, financial transactions and trade between the two countries.

These amended rules remove the sponsoring organization requirement from OFAC’s general license allowing “people to people” travel to Cuba. As a result, U.S. persons may now to travel to Cuba much more easily on their own accord under the “people to people” program. However, persons doing so must still must maintain a full-time schedule of meaningful interactive activities, keep appropriate documentation and satisfy other requirements. Travel to or within Cuba for tourism purposes remains prohibited.


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Flag of CubaYesterday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) released new rules easing the remaining travel and export financing restrictions on Cuba, offering new opportunities for U.S. businesses to engage with Cuba. 
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BaseballFrom the “Miracle on Ice” to the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights, sports have often played a pivotal symbolic role in American diplomacy abroad. Now, as relations with Cuba have started to thaw, The New York Times recently detailed the Caribbean Baseball Initiative’s plan to bring a Minor League Baseball team to Havana. The group, led by veteran baseball executive Lou Schwechheimer,  has spent the last decade laying significant groundwork toward this end and hopes for success as early as 2017.
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Flag of CubaThe U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of the Treasury have announced additional changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations intended to facilitate travel, expand telecommunications and internet-based services, and authorize certain business operations in Cuba. Published on September 21, these new policy changes take effect immediately.  Among the changes are specific provisions aimed at expanding U.S. presence in Cuba:
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