New OFAC Regulations on Travel to Cuba

3-13-09, 9:23 am

Original source: Latin America Working Group

On March 11, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) posted a new regulation, plus a guidance letter outlining how the provisions in the FY 09 omnibus spending bill would be implemented, as related to Cuban-American family travel and ag sales. See the pdf containing the regulation and the guidance letter here.

This is big news for all of us that have been fighting for change in Cuba policy; we should celebrate, and our job is not completed.

The changes announced by OFAC make good forward progress, and we applaud the action as a positive step that begins to unravel the harsh and inhumane restrictions established by the previous administration in 2004. But OFAC's new regulation and guidance letter do not fulfill President Obama's campaign promise to remove ALL restrictions on Cuban-American family travel, nor does this action remove urgency from the Congress to act legislatively to remove restrictions on travel for ALL Americans.

As we take a deep breath and prepare for the continuing push to end the full travel ban, we encourage you to gather with some friends and celebrate this positive momentum – as evidence of the good work that you have been doing. Cuba Consultation 2009 Report

We are happy to report that Cuba Consultation 2009 was a huge success! Over 150 activists gathered in DC on Thursday and Friday, March 5 and 6, for a day of strategy and discussion and a very important day on Capitol Hill to encourage and educate Congress about the right of 'travel for all.' You came to DC to urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 874 and S. 428. As a result of your efforts, 20 new members of the House of Representatives have cosponsored HR 874, and five additional senators have signed on to S 428. We expect more members to co-sponsor as you continue to do your follow up work.

We know it's not easy for people to travel to DC, especially in this current economic climate, so for those of you who attended the consultation, THANK YOU. For those that weren't able, we know how committed you are and we are happy to report that your voices were well represented.

Our work continues, more now than ever, as momentum is building around legislation that puts an end to the travel ban definitively.

The passage of the omnibus spending bill with the Cuba language intact, the OFAC action, the success of Cuba Consultation, and the growing list of co-sponsors on H.R. 874 and S.428 reassure us that the time for change is now. Momentum is with us! We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by.

The important ACTION now is to follow up to your contacts with members of Congress to continue to advocate their cosponsorship of the two bills (H.R 874 and S. 428). You can find our previous alerts on each of these bills here.

Progress! Yes, we are making progress! We could again tick off the steps already taken, but the important thing to emphasize are the steps yet to come. You are part of this success; you will be part of the final victory!