Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations *

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations *

Article excerpt


Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions, including an embargo on trade and financial transactions. President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba in February 1962,1 citing Section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), which authorizes the President "to establish and maintain a total embargo upon all trade between the United States and Cuba."2 At the same time, the Department of the Treasury issued the Cuban Import Regulations to deny the importation into the United States of all goods imported from or through Cuba.3 The authority for the embargo was later expanded in March 1962 to include the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA).4

In July 1963, the Treasury Department revoked the Cuban Import Regulations and replaced them with the more comprehensive Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR)-31 C.F.R. Part 515 under the authority of TWEA and Section 620(a) of the FAA.5 The CACR, which include a prohibition on most financial transactions with Cuba and a freeze of Cuban government assets in the United States, remain the main body of Cuba embargo regulations, and have been amended many times over the years to reflect changes in policy. They are administered by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and prohibit financial transactions as well as trade transactions with Cuba. The CACR also require that all exports to Cuba be licensed by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, under the provisions of the Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended.6 The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) are found at 15 C.F.R. Sections 730-774.7

Congress subsequently strengthened sanctions on Cuba through provisions in such legislation as the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (CDA, P.L. 102-484, Title XVII), the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-114), and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA, P.L. 106-387, Title IX).

* Among its sanctions, the CDA prohibits U.S. subsidiaries from engaging in trade with Cuba and prohibits entry into the United States for any sea-borne vessel to load or unload freight if it has been involved in trade with Cuba within the previous 180 days.

* The LIBERTAD Act codified the economic embargo, including all restrictions under the CACR, although the President retains broad authority to amend the regulations. Nevertheless, as set forth in the LIBERTAD Act, the President cannot eliminate the embargo regulations without making a determination that a transition government is in power in Cuba. The LIBERTAD Act also requires the President to end the embargo if he determines that a democratically elected government is in power.

* While TSRA authorizes U.S. commercial exports to Cuba, it also includes prohibitions on U.S. assistance and financing and requires "payment of cash in advance" or third-country financing for the exports. The act also prohibits tourist travel to Cuba.

In addition to these key acts that constitute the economic embargo, there are numerous other provisions of law that impose sanctions on Cuba, including restrictions on trade, foreign aid, and support from international financial institutions. The government of Cuba also was designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of international terrorism in 1982 under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act and other laws because of its alleged ties to international terrorism. …

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