On Obama's "Updated" Cuba Regulations

Friday, September 18, 2015
This morning, the Obama Administration announced "updates" to its January 2015 Treasury and Commerce regulations easing sanctions towards the Cuban dictatorship.

These "updates" reflect the Obama Administration's frustration at the strong, bipartisan opposition it has faced in Congress to any lifting of sanctions towards Cuba, which remain codified in law. It also reflects the Obama Administration's disappointment that -- despite the sensationalism -- its January 2015 regulations have not netted any commercial transactions.

Thus, the Obama Administration seeks to (further) irresponsibly entice the business community to violate clear statutory prohibitions, in order to continue its hollow policy agenda of rapprochement with the Cuban dictatorship.

Just as the January 2015 regulations, namely its credit and debit card provisions, sought to compel American companies and individuals (at their own risk) to violate the statutory prohibition against the indirect financing of Cuba (Section 103 of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act -- herein "Libertad Act"), today's regulations would expose American companies and individuals to violations of the statutory prohibition on investment in Cuba's domestic telecommunications services (Section 102(g) of the Libertad Act) and the importation safeguards against Cuban products (Section 110 of the Libertad Act). They also contravene U.S. policy goals and protections against trafficking in stolen American properties in Cuba.

These regulations will surely result in close Congressional scrutiny, as any liability for such violations would extend past the Obama Administration's term in office.

Finally, through further unilateral concessions, which the Cuban dictatorship reiterated this week will not be reciprocated, the Obama Administration seeks to distract from the real troubling metrics of its new policy: a dramatic increase in repression on the island, with nearly 4,000 political arrests; the rate of Cubans risking their lives to flee the island has doubled; courageous Cuban dissidents are being sidelined by the State Department, Congressional delegations, foreign governments and Pope Francis; Russian intelligence ships have increased their activities in the eastern U.S. seaboard thanks to their access to Cuba's ports; and the repressive and undemocratic activities of Cuba's puppet regime in Venezuela have intensified.