The strange case of PayPal, the Cuban Five and the Office of Foreign Assets Control

The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five has scheduled a week of activities in Washington from May 30 – June 5 to continue the campaign to win release of five Cuban intelligence agents still in jail in the United States for “conspiracy to commit” espionage back in the 1990s.

Full disclosure: I’ll be speaking at one of the events about my forthcoming book about the case: What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.

To help support its work, the committee issued an appeal for donations, using its existing PayPal account. But when some people tried to donate, they got  a message back that PayPal is ”not able to complete this particular transaction. This reversal is specific to this transaction and does not affect the use of your PayPal account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For more information, see Government regulations and policies. Sincerely…”

What’s going on? And why? Here is a report from the Committee:

“One day after a matching fund appeal was sent out by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, PayPal stopped all donations coming in and froze all assets in the committee’s account. The purpose of the appeal was for much needed funds for the upcoming Five Days for the Cuban Five, May 30 – June 5 in Washington D.C.

Donors received the following message: “Unfortunately, we are not able to complete this particular transaction. This reversal is specific to this transaction and does not affect the use of your PayPal account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For more information, see Government regulations and policies. Sincerely, PayPal”.

The committee’s account administrator called PayPal and followed it up with the following letter:

“You suspended this account for three days and then cleared it after I made a phone call, which is great. However, we still do not know or understand the reason for the suspension except that you suspect some activity that might possibly be in violation of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations.

“What activity? What provoked the concern? I gave you no more information in the phone call than you already had in your files.

“We are understandably concerned about any accusation concerning OFAC violations, and if there are any parties that are making such accusations to cause trouble to us, we want to take appropriate action. I’m sure you understand.

“Please therefore provide us with information that we can use to avoid such a problem in the future.

“Thank you.”

Organizations and individuals in the U.S. working in solidarity with Cuba are used to this type of intimidating tactic that is just another extension of the cruel and senseless blockade of Cuba. This action has only made us more determined than ever to make the second Five Days for the Cuban Five a great success. We get word everyday of more people coming to Washington and we should show our strength by making sure we make the matching fund. For those of you who had your donation bounce resubmit it and for those of you who haven’t made a contribution there could be no better time than now.

See you in Washington D.C.

Donations are tax deductible.

You can make an online CREDIT CARD donation

TO MAKE A DONATION WITH A CHECK IN THE UNITED STATES

WRITE YOUR CHECK TO: International Committee
Send your donation to
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
P.O. Box 22455
Oakland, CA 94609

TO MAKE A DONATION BY WAY OF A WIRE TRANSACTION, FROM ANY COUNTRY WRITE TO US to: info@thecuban5.org and we will send you the necessary information to make the transaction.

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Copyright 2013 Stephen Kimber, Website

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