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U.S. government has ordered to close, some 80 websites  to a British tour operator,  for selling trips to Cuba
THE U.S. government has ordered a national company that registers internet domain names to close, without prior notice, some 80 websites belonging to a British tour operator, used for selling trips to Cuba, among other destinations.

Marshall lives in Spain and sells trips to various countries including Cuba to exclusively European clients. His sites, in English, French, Italian and Spanish, have existed since 1998. Several of them, such as,, and, present various aspects of Cuban culture to potential travelers.

The businessman maintains that he has no connection whatsoever with the United States aside from being so naïve as to trust a U.S. company to host his internet sites.

"I came to work in the morning, and we had no reservations at all," Marshall told the Times. "We thought that it was a technical problem."

The reality was otherwise. The websites had been added to the "blacklist" maintained by OFAC, the U.S. governments anti-Cuban commercial Gestapo.

Marshall recounted that the eNom company confirmed the news when he called their offices in Bellevue, in the state of Washington.

The U.S. company arrogantly refused to allow him to retain the names he has always used. Marshall was obliged to recreate another series of internet identities in order to rescue his operations.


The tour operator told the Times he did not understand how it was possible that websites belonging to a British citizen, operating through a Spanish travel agency, could be subjected to U.S. law in this way.

Charles S. Sims, a lawyer consulted by the New York paper, commented, "The U.S can certainly criminalize the expenditure of money by U.S. citizens in Cuba, but it doesnt properly have any jurisdiction over foreign sites that are not targeted at the U.S. and which are lawful under foreign law."

Susan Crawford, a visiting law professor at Yale University and a leading authority on Internet law, considers the OFAC action scandalous: "The way we communicate these days is through domain names, and the Treasury Department should not be interfering with domain names just as it does not interfere with telecommunications lines."


The OFAC interference in Steve Marshalls business is only the latest in a long series of similar actions taken by this U.S. agency, the majority of whose staff is assigned to attacking Cuba.

The U.S. government agency supposedly in charge of "blocking the financial resources of terrorists" has only four full-time employees investigating the fortunes of suspected terrorists, while 24 of its functionaries spend their time pursuing citizens who dare to travel to Cuba and detecting supposed violations of the blockade of the island.

This past year, OFAC forced the Austrian bank BAWAG, acquired by the U.S. consortium Cerberus, to close the accounts of 100 clients born in Cuba. Some months earlier, the Canadian Scotia Bank, "inspired" by OFAC, announced that it would no longer provide services for monetary transactions in dollars from the United States to Cuba through its branch in Jamaica.

The Hotel Scandic Edderkoppen in Oslo, Norway, acquired by Hilton Hotels in 2006, refused to provide rooms for a delegation of 15 Cubans who had traveled to Norway to participate in a tourism trade fair.

On February 3, 2006, the Cuban delegation participating in the Cuba-U.S. Energy Summit in Mexico City were expelled, on orders from OFAC, from the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton, owned by the U.S. company Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

The record event among OFAC abuses of non-U.S. companies occurred in May of 2004 when the Union of Swiss Banks was fined $100 million for facilitating the replacement by Cuba and other countries of dollar bills in poor condition.

The most recent show of force by the Bush administrations anti-Cuban police took place just days ago with the fining of the Atlantic Bank of Miami for authorizing a bank transaction supposedly linked to Cuba.


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