Press Release: British campaign falls victim to US blockade laws against Cuba

Campaign News | Tuesday, 28 May 2013

British NGO, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) faces financial penalties or the risk having its funds seized by the US treasury department as a result of US blockade legislation against Cuba.

In April 2013, the British based campaign attempted to transfer funds to US publishing house Monthly Review Foundation to pay for 100 copies of ‘The Economic War on Cuba’ by French academic and journalist Salim Lamrani.

CSC instructed its British bank, the Co-operative, to make the transfer to the publisher's New York based Chase Bank. However, the payment was never made. Instead CSC received a letter from the Co-op bank stating that “this payment has not been completed due to a ‘reference which is similar to an entity related to sanctions as provided by the U.S treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)’. They require more info regarding Cuba.”

The Campaign now faces the option of paying bank charges to try and recover the money, or providing details to the OFAC, who can decide to retain CSC funds if they chose.

The book's author Salim Lamrani, who is currently in Britain on a speaking tour to promote the book, said:

“It’s ironic that a British organisation that campaigns against the US blockade of Cuba, now faces penalties as a direct result of this legislation. Aside from the inhumane suffering the blockade causes the people of Cuba by restricting their access to US medicines and medical equipment, its extraterritorial measures break domestic laws in third countries.”

CSC Director Rob Miller said:

"It's farcical that extraterritorial blockade legislation is being used here to stop the sales of a book that itself exposes the breadth of the blockade against Cuba. Perhaps OFAC have specific objections to the book itself, although it is more likely that they object to allowing a payment from a British NGO with the word 'Cuba' in its name. Once again the ludicrousness of the US blockade is exposed in this case in trying to stop UK readers enjoying an excellent book published by a US publishing house."

This is not the first time the British campaign has fallen victim to the extraterritorial nature of the US blockade. Dell computers has refused to sell the campaign a laptop without first being provided with the full name and addresses of directors and trustees of the organisation and bank transfers destined for projects in Cuba have regularly been refused.

Salim Lamrani will be speaking in London on Tuesday 28 May, 6.30pm at Bolivar Hall, Grafton Way, London.

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