Cuba Still Open to Yachts as Embargo Tightened

Smooth Sailing: Lawyer Michael T. Moore (left) and Commodore Jose Miguel Díaz Escrich (right) at the Hemingway Marina in Havana.

It seems that while the US government is tightening their economic embargo on Cuba, the new regulations will not prevent yachts from traveling from the United States to cruising the island waters.  

Moore & Co., a Miami-based, full service law firm assisting maritime, aviation and art clients throughout the world has advised more than 250 yachts in how to legally travel to Cuba and will, they say, continue to do so under the new rules.

The changes increase restrictions on travel to the island and prohibit Americans from doing business with hotels, stores and other businesses tied to the Cuban military.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), respectively, to implement changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President in June.

The US State Department is taking parallel steps to implement these policy changes, which have the stated purpose of “channelling economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, while maintaining opportunities for Americans to engage in authorised travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba.” The changes will take effect on Thursday, November 9, 2017, when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: “We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people”

The most significant change effecting American travellers is the elimination of the individual people-to-people license. People-to-people travel will once again be limited to trips involving authorized tour operators, and tour guides, who will have to accompany the groups in Cuba.

American travellers will also have to be careful when selecting on island accommodations not to choose a hotel connected to the Cuban military and on the State Department’s List of Restricted Entities.