By Michael Jones (

The last country that this blog series will focus on is Cuba. This tiny island nation has had a tumultuous history after its independence from Spain, consisting of multiple U.S. occupations and dictatorships all the way up until the 1959 Cuban Revolution. The revolution ended with the expulsion of the regime of pro-U.S. dictator Fulgencio Batista, with left-leaning revolutionary leader Fidel Castro rising to fill the vacuum in his place. Once in power, Castro, a fierce critic of the U.S., began to gravitate towards the Soviet Union and to a Communist government. Of course, since the Cold War was at its height, the U.S. was afraid of the implications of having a Communist, Soviet-friendly nation only 90 miles from its coastline. This led to a number of attempts to oust Castro through any means possible, such as the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco. When these attempts eventually failed, the U.S. simply cut off all relations with Cuba and implemented a blanket embargo to try and force Castro to the negotiations table.

Of course, the embargo has failed to do just that. Even though Fidel Castro himself is no longer in power, his party, the Cuban Communist Party, still has control over the Cuban government, and there seem to be few cries for regime change within the country. However, even despite its ineffectiveness at achieving its goal, the embargo still persists to this day, and still governs all transactions between the U.S. and Cuban governments.

So what exactly does the U.S. embargo on Cuba consist of? The answer can essentially be divided up into 3 parts: travel, imports, and exports. In terms of travel, certain groups are eligible to visit Cuba under an OFAC general license, including those with close relatives in Cuba, U.S. officials, journalists, researchers, and students. Additionally, other groups can enter Cuba if they go through the application process for an OFAC specific license, which include free-lance journalists and humanitarian workers. Other than these groups, travel to Cuba is prohibited.

In terms of imports, it is illegal to bring into the U.S. any goods that originate in Cuba – the only exception is for certain informational materials. Everything else is banned. For exports to Cuba, most goods are also prohibited unless one first obtains an OFAC license. However, there are some important exceptions: informational materials, donations of food, certain medicines, and internet-based communication services (among other specific items) can all be exported without a license. There are also other minor regulations that can be found on the U.S. Treasury’s website.

If you would like more details on the laws surrounding trade with Cuba, please contact TSI Global Consulting at 210-757-0618 for a consultation. Please check back soon for more blog updates.

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