Cuba Embargo Hits American Express with $5,200,000 Fine


By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES — American Express was fined $5.2 million dollars for violating the US travel ban on Cuba for ordinary citizens, dpa reported on Monday.

The settlement reached involved the sales of 14,487 plane tickets that would be business as usual with any other country.

The US Treasury’s Foreign Assets Control Office accused the corporation for selling the tickets to and from Cuba that were not for US citizens with special permission to travel to the island.

The Cuba travel ban is part of the US embargo policy that for over a half century has tried to debilitate the Cuban government through commercial, economic and financial sanctions.

“The apparent violations caused significant harm to the U.S. sanctions program objectives regarding Cuba,” the Treasury Department said in announcing the settlement.

The US embargo, called a blockade by Cuba, has been condemned by wide margins for 21 straight years at the United Nations (188-3 in 2012). However the resolution has no enforcement teeth and several US administrations have simply ignored it.

10 thoughts on “Cuba Embargo Hits American Express with $5,200,000 Fine

  • I don’t know what book you’re reading, but “genocide” is defined differently in mine.

    Terrible? Yes. Genocide? No.

  • Griffin, the realty is that US citizens that are not Cuban-Americans cannot just buy a plane ticket and head to Cuba because the US government requires they hold a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This fact makes tens of thousands of US citizens choose each year from breaking the law they consider unjust or travel on a very expensive group tour to Cuba where the organizer has the coveted licence. There is no problem on Cuba’s part, the more than “certain restrictions” are all Washingtons. Likewise the US government charges an outrageous $160 for an application form and then turns down most requests from Cubans to visit the US. On the other hand these days very few Cubans cannot leave the country, this includes even the famous dissidents. Another key problem for Cubans visiting abroad is the cost of air fare, greatly higher than it would be if the half century US embargo was lifted and the travel ban rescinded.

  • Americans are free to travel to any country in the world, including to Cuba with certain restrictions. Technically, Cubans are now allowed to travel abroad, but many are still refused permission to leave, and the cost is prohibitive to all but the very few. The Cuban people remain imprisoned on the island.

  • This is a travesty. American Express is an honorable company trying to do a professional job serving its international clients. OFAC is the pawn of a shrinking minority of hard line Cuban American exiles who have damaged the economic and political interests of their adopted country.

    Last year OFAC collected $1,139,158,727 in fines, a substantial part Cuba related.

    It is time for President Obama to use his authority to rein in OFAC by providing general licenses for all purposeful travel and by stopping the harassment of companies and foreign banks that facilitate travel and handle dollars earned by Cuba.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development.

  • There is the little matter of money.

  • genocide? WOW!

    Medicine is specifically excluded from the embargo.

    Medical equipment? While the Cuban government wants everyone to believe their lack is due to the embargo, the reality is they simply have no money to pay for it since everything is available from other countries.

  • Cubans aren’t more free to travel than US citizens, Dan Christensen.

    You keep posting that lie over and over again

    Doctors and families of doctors on mission aren’t allowed to travel. lots of othere people aren’t allowed either.

    MINSAP regulation 54.14 is still in force. It demands 3 to 5 years work after any request to
    leave the country and then their request can be denied. Doctors
    passports are “coded” as a special group that isn’t allowed to leave the
    country even if they have a valid entry visa to another country.
    The new law, in artícle 23 of the “Decreto-Ley No. 302” of 16 october 2012 allows the government to deny them a passport “for reason of national interest” and requires a “special authorization” for doctors and others as this article confirms:

    “El decreto, sin embargo, mostró que las regulaciones van mucho más allá de la llamada “fuga de cerebros”.

    Los supervisores deberán autorizar la emisión de pasaportes a altos
    funcionarios del gobierno, profesionales universitarios, médicos y
    personal médico, figuras deportivas y otras personas que desarrolla
    funciones “vitales”.

    Y los pasaportes serán negados a ciudadanos, según el decreto,
    “cuando por otras razones de interés público, lo determinen las
    autoridades facultadas.””

    Any Cuban can arbitrarily and without appeal be refused a passport. The “carta blanca” is replaced by the “carta azul”.

  • The US embargo is still very much in place and wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Cubans. Vital access to certain medical equipment, medicines and laboratory materials, for example, continues to be blocked by the US regime even today. This, according to Amnesty International and UN observers, is adversely affecting the health and well-being of Cubans (Amnesty International, Annual Report 2013). And that’s genocide in anyone’s book — genocide by stealth and behind the scenes, but genocide with intent to kill nonetheless (UN Genocide Convention, Article 2c). Is it any wonder then that these cruel and inhumane sanctions have been so widely condemned by the international community?

    Many (most?) Americans cannot afford to travel abroad these days either. So they are restricted not only economically, but legally as well. And the US government isn’t making it any easier for Cuban tourists to visit the US. It is charging $160 for entry visas. And if they don’t interview well, they can still be turned down even after paying the nonrefundable fee. US authorities want to make sure that the prospective tourist is going to be returning to Cuba.

  • Simply “non news”. $5.2 Million is the profit American Express makes every 2 hours. Everything else is same old, same old about the US Embargo.

    But since the Embargo has been brought, how many realize what a shell of it’s former existence it has now become?

    * 440,000 Americans visited Cuba LEGALLY last year. The US is second only to Canada in Cuban visitors. Then there is the estimated 160,000 who go illegally while the US government simply looks the other way. No one has been prosecuted for going to Cuba for at least 5 years.

    * Cuba is now the US 7th largest export market. The $1.5 Billion in food sold to Cuba by US farmers is approximates the total value of all the food grown in Cuba.

    * The $5.2 Billion in remittances sent to Cuba last year came mostly from the US. This is 5X the payroll over EVERYONE who works for the Cuban state.

    * But, it is true that you still cannot buy Cuban cigars in the US.

    BTW, the statement “Cubans are more free to travel than Americans” ignores the basic fact that the Cuban government has made it citizens so poor that almost none of them can afford to go anywhere. Lack of government restriction is meaningless when you have 47 CUP in your pocket.

  • It seems Cubans are now more free to travel than Americans.

    Also, the genocidal US embargo has been condemned in resolutions even by the USA’s closest allies at the UN. Last year, only Israel, who trades freely with Cuba anyway, and the tiny US island-colony of Palau (pop. 21,000) voted with the US against the resolution. The only abstentions were a handful of other tiny US island-colonies in the South Pacific. On these cruel and inhumane sanctions, the US regime is truly isolated on the world stage. Human rights groups like Amnesty International have also repeatedly called for their immediate and unconditional lifting.

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