Cuban cigars legal
for Washington politicians
Cuban Cigar Import Regulations
New York, June 19, 2001 - Members of the U.S. Congress have exempted themselves from U.S. Department of the Treasury regulations that determine the value of Cuban produced products that can legally be brought back to the U.S., according to the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council Inc.
The Congressional Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the U.S. House of Representatives recently authorized the exemption.
What this means, according to John S. Kavulich II, president of the council, is that members of Congress, following a licensed trip to Cuba, could bring back more Cuban cigars or other Cuban products than are currently permitted by U.S. Treasury regulations.
Members of Congress, including members of the U.S. Senate, under separate rules, have been permitted to retain boxes of Cohiba brand and other Cuban produced cigar brands, some of which have been signed by Fidel Castro, the president of the Republic of Cuba, Kavulich said.
A box of Cohiba brand cigars signed by Castro is generally valued at more than $1,000, he said.
According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the office that regulates the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, individuals subject to U.S. law, including members of the U.S. Congress, travel to Cuba under the auspices of either an OFAC General License or an OFAC Specific License.
They are permitted to return with up to $100 worth of Cuban- origin products (cigars, rum, T-shirts, crafts, etc.) for their personal use.
Kavulich said while the U.S. Customs Service permits returning U.S. citizens to bring back up to 100 Cuban cigars, the total value of the cigars cant exceed the OFACs $100 maximum for licensed travelers returning from the island.
For a complete overview of OFAC rules and regulations pertaining to travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, see http://www.treas.gov/ofac/, or the U.S. State Department Cuba travel site at http://www.state.gov/www/regions/wha/cuba/travel.html.
The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council is a private not-for- profit corporation which doesnt take position with respect to U.S. and Cuban political relations.
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