On June 28, OFAC fined one of the most important banks in Italy, Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A., to the tune of $2,949,030 USD. According to an investigation conducted by the agency, the bank processed 53 transactions with Cuba, between 2004 and 2008. The U.S. considers the extra-territorial application of its laws to be within its prerogative, setting a dangerous precedent to dissuade other European institutions from working with Cuba.
As if that were not enough, on July 22, OFAC again fined another entity for violating the blockade, this time the fine surpassed five million dollars – $5,226,120 – the fifth and largest fine this year, to date. The accused was none other than American Express Travel Related Services Company, one of the most well-established travel agencies in the country.
OFAC announced this last sanction after conducting a detailed investigation, consistent with the government’s determination to prevent U.S. citizens from traveling freely to Cuba. The agency asserts that the company’s foreign subsidiaries and offices abroad sold 14,487 airline tickets to travel to Cuba from other countries, outside of the parameters established in the license American Express was granted to organize ‘people to people’ travel.
The U.S. government has once again made concessions to the small sector of U.S. society which opposes changing the country’s policy toward Cuba, ignoring the vast majority who support an end to the travel ban.
At the same time, it reinforces the extra-territorial application of blockade regulations, imposing fines on foreign and U.S. companies for transactions carried out in other countries.
The fundamental goal of this illegal and inhumane policy continues to be causing the Cuban people harm and suffering.