An article in today’s Washington Post may be attracting some attention over in the halls and cubicles of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). It describes in some detail how Miles Jackson, a local DC man and skateboarding enthusiast, appears to have been skating around the U.S. embargo on Cuba to deliver skateboards to Cuba and to spend time with his skateboarding buds in Havana.
Apparently the skateboarder became interested in Cuban skateboarding while studying abroad in Cuba during college. So far, so good; nothing wrong with that.
The dicey stuff starts after he returns to the United States and wants to keep up with his skateboarding buddies in Cuba and send them real skateboards, notwithstanding the travel and export bans for Cuba.
Jackson and [a friend] Bradley began traveling to Cuba that September to drop a few boards off. Because direct travel from the United States was limited, their first trips went through Toronto, Bradley said.
That sentence probably should be re-written to remove the word “limited” — “Because direct travel from the United States was illegal, their first trips went through Toronto.” Of course, direct travel would be legal with a license, but then you wouldn’t go through Canada. Of course, maybe Jackson did get an OFAC license to go skateboarding in Cuba and decided to take the long route through Toronto.
On top of that, Jackson started exporting skateboards to Cuba:
Jackson … regularly travels with up to 50 skateboards at a time. He and his friends, through their nonprofit organization Cuba Skate, have ferried more than 200 skateboards in the past five years to aspiring skaters in the island country.
Of course, that would be okay if licensed, but there is no indication that such licenses were obtained. Another possibility would be export pursuant to BIS License Exception GFT. But that covers parcels addressed to an individual containing quantities normally given as gifts; it does not cover carrying 50 skateboards to Cuba through Canada if that is what happened.
Now Jackson wants to fix up the skateboard parks in Havana. He and some friends
plan to travel again to Havana in September, when they hope to start an ambitious renovation of the country’s only official skatepark, El Patinodromo, on the outskirts of the city. During the rainy season, the park floods, and the metal ramps and rails have begun to rust.
With the embargoes relaxed, Jackson hopes to replace the aging ramps and rails over five to eight weeks, pending permission from the State Department.
The State Department? Really?? Apparently the editors at the Washington Post (like their colleagues at the Wall Street Journal) must also be on vacation.