White House Caps Amount of Money Relatives Can Send to Cuba

Youths plays soccer in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, on Aug. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump administration on Friday rolled out more sanctions against Cuba, limiting the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send to family members on the island nation.

The restriction stipulates that any funds sent from the U.S. to any single Cuban relative cannot exceed $1,000 in a consecutive three-month period.

The new rule filed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, will also forbid American citizens from sending funds to Cuban government officials or members of the Cuban Communist Party.

Close family members of these prohibited recipients will also be barred from receiving funds from sources in the U.S, according to the document signed by OFAC Director Andrea Gacki.

The rule is set to be published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect Oct. 9.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Friday that the Trump administration is “taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime,” including for its support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, seen by the U.S. and other countries as an illegitimate leader.

“The United States holds the Cuban regime accountable for its oppression of the Cuban people and support of other dictatorships throughout the region, such as the illegitimate Maduro regime,” Mnuchin said. “Through these regulatory amendments, Treasury is denying Cuba access to hard currency, and we are curbing the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba.”

The Trump administration initially announced its plan in April to tighten the regulations that former President Barack Obama had previously loosened in an effort to improve relations with Cuba. The Obama administration had ended the limits on family members transmitting money between Cuba and the U.S. in 2009, and also made it easier for Americans to travel to the island.

In June, the current administration revoked authorization for most nonfamily trips to Cuba.

But in light of President Donald Trump’s June 2017 directive to “encourage the growth of a Cuban private sector independent of government control,” the Treasury Department on Friday added an exception to authorize unlimited fund transfers to certain self-employed individuals, including small farm operators and bed-and-breakfast owners and employees.

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