Yesterday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control issued “guidance” on the new Cuba travel regulations. In fact, the “guidance” says little that isn’t already in the regulations, but it does serve as a reminder of at least one of the quirks in the Cuba sanctions that persists despite recent reforms.
In particular, the guidance points out that the regulations only provide for the transport of authorized travel between the United States by aircraft. No cruises allowed, unless the boat gets a specific license to provide service to Cuba for persons authorized to go to Cuba.
Now let’s dive down the rabbit hole into the “Wonderland” of export control, where if OFAC and the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) “had a world of [their] own, everything would be nonsense.”
You might think that once the boat got a license to provide service to Cuba, that would be the end of it, right?
(“‘You don’t know much,’ said the Duchess, ‘And that’s a fact.’”)
No, because OFAC licenses providing the travel service to Cuba and BIS licenses the export of the boat to Cuba.
(“At last the Dodo said, ‘everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’”)
And, yes, once the boat crosses into Cuban waters, you’ve “exported” the boat to Cuba, even if the boat turns around and heads straight back for the United States.
(“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”)
If travel is provided by an airplane “of U.S. registry operating under an Air Carrier Operating Certificate” instead of a boat, then the short little foray into Cuban territory is covered by License Exception AVS, and no license is required.
(“When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”)
So what is the difference, for any conceivable policy purposes, between an airplane and a boat?
(“The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’”)
All I can figure, is that a boat is more comfortable and has better food than the coach cabin of an airplane and the U.S. doesn’t want to make it all that easy to get to Cuba.
(“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?” “I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.)