US Eases Some Financial Restrictions on Cuba to Boost Small Businesses on the Communist-Run Island

By Jace Dela Cruz

May 29, 2024 01:35 AM EDT

The US Treasury Department announced on Tuesday new regulations designed to support Cuba's growing private sector and enhance the country's access to US internet services.

These measures are intended to boost small businesses on the Communist-run island. 

People wrapped in Cuban flags buy coffee as they march through the streets of Miami, Florida, to commemorate last year's historic protests in Cuba, on July 11, 2022.
(Photo : CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Small Businesses in Cuba Can Now Open US Bank Accounts

For the first time in decades, small business owners in Cuba can now open and access US bank accounts. This change comes after long-standing restrictions were imposed following Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution. The regulatory amendments, effective May 28, are designed to support internet freedom and independent entrepreneurs in Cuba.

The US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has updated authorizations for internet-based services, including social media, video conferencing, and cloud services. These changes aim to improve communication and the flow of information to help budding entrepreneurs.

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Broadening the Definition of Cuban Entrepreneurs

OFAC is also broadening the definition of Cuban entrepreneurs to include private cooperatives and small businesses with up to 100 employees. This new definition better represents Cuba's current non-state sector, which now permits small- and medium-sized enterprises. 

As OFAC authorizes independent private sector entrepreneurs who are Cuban nationals to open, maintain, and remotely use US bank accounts, including through online payment platforms, the US seems to ease some of the complications faced by the growing private sector.

The authorization for "U-turn" transactions has also been reinstated to aid the Cuban people by enabling remittances and payments for private sector activities. This reinstatement also includes the unblocking and return of previously blocked "U-turn" funds. 

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