The attached law note, Your Man in Havana, was published in 54th edition of the London-based World Export Controls Review Journal. If you’re in the export controls or economic sanctions compliance or law orbit, you should consider a WorldECR subscription. Be sure to visit their website.
I completed this law note a week before President Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive on Cuba. I’m working on a blog post that will update the law note; however, the general advice provided in the piece still applies. We’ll see what happens after November 8. U.S.-Cuba policy watchers will likely need to update the notices, yet again. I believe there are executive overreach issues with the PPD, as well as with some of the regulations issued since December 17, 2014, that companies or persons who engage in Cuba transactions should factor in when considering risk.
Also a few days after the WorldECR went to print, the Cuban government appears to have initiated a more robust crackdown on what they call independent businesses. In reality, it’s a legal fiction. There are no independent businesses in Cuba, at least not outside the black market. According to civil society leaders I talked with earlier this week, this latest round of vendor harassment went beyond the usual technocratic demands for compliance with ever-changing Community Party regulations. Several home businesses were temporarily shutdown, including the eatery visited by President Obama and his family.
If you’re contemplating entering this economic and politically volatile market, whether your business is a small, medium, or a well-established multinational, an extra ounce or two of due diligence will do you good. And keep an eye on the lame duck session of the Congress this year. More changes may be coming before the end of the year.
P.S., while Cuba was removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list, in my opinion prematurely, keep in mind that earlier this year before a Congressional committee, DNI Clapper ranked Cuba as one of the top four counterintelligence threats to the United States. The other three nations on the list were China, Russia, and Iran. He also said in his prepared remarks that Cuba still considers the United States an enemy.