OFAC Updates "People-to-People" Requirements

Friday, May 11, 2012
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Office Control (OFAC) has updated the requirements for people-to-people travel to Cuba.

According to the new requirements, each license applicant will need to certify that "the predominant portion of the activities to be engaged in by individuals traveling" will not be meetings with Castro regime officials.

This might seems like common sense, but many of the trips to date have featured meetings with Castro regime officials -- a reminder of how skewed the Administration's regulations are.

Moreover, any meetings with Castro regime officials will need to "specify how each such meeting advances purposeful travel under the people-to-people program by enhancing contact with the Cuban people and/or supporting civil society in Cuba, and/or how it promotes independence from Cuban authorities."

That should be interesting.

Finally, OFAC tightened its enforcement language for people-to-people trips by warning:

"The exchanges must also advance purposeful travel by enhancing contact with the Cuban people and/or supporting civil society in Cuba, and/or the exchanges must promote independence from Cuban authorities. OFAC does not authorize transactions related to activities that are primarily tourist-oriented, including self-directed educational activities that are intended only for personal enrichment, as noted in paragraph (c) of section 515.565 of the Regulations. Licensees that fail to meet the requirements of their licenses may have their licenses revoked or be issued a civil penalty, which can range up to $65,000 per violation."

However, OFAC still can't explain why "people-to-people" applicants only need to submit a sample itinerary, while those seeking to travel under "support for the Cuban people" (to actually help democracy and human rights activists) need to present a full-time itinerary.

Shouldn't the latter take precedent?