By Loly Sosa

On July 15, 2017, the White House held a conference call regarding today’s changes to US-Cuba policy.  The White House has clarified that it wishes to continue economic interaction with the Cuban people, but will focus on restricting the flow of money to the Cuban military and security forces.

The White House clarified that tourism will remain banned, and that regulations related to rum, cigars, cruise ships, air travel, and telecommunications access will not be changed.  There will also be no changes related to the U.S. Embassy or Guantanamo Bay, and Cuba will not be renamed a state sponsor of terrorism.  Stays in military-owned hotels, however, will be banned and, while people-to-people group exchanges will continue to be allowed, individual people-to-people exchanges will not be permitted.  The remaining 11 approved categories of Cuba travel will remain unchanged.

The White House stated that Cuba will need to meet specific benchmarks to improve its relationship with the U.S.  These benchmarks include free elections, religious freedom, the release of political prisoners, and the authorization of direct employment of Cuban workers.

The White House website will have a landing page showing how the policy changes will be implemented.  The policy changes will not go into effect until the relevant regulations are written.  The regulation-writing process will be initiated within thirty days of today’s policy announcement.

Loly Sosa is an a litigation and international arbitration associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP.