Audiovisual production company receives OFAC license to operate in Cuba
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
Although the Trump administration's Cuba policy review has not been
completed, a U.S.-based broadcast and video facilities company, has
received a liceaaense to operate on the island and to contract with a
Cuban state enterprise.
The license granted to Cuba International Network (CIN)by the Treasury
Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) allows the company
to contract with Cuban government-operated radio and television
enterprise known by the Spanish acronym RTV and authorizes all
transactions to provide U.S. and international customers with recording
equipment and trained Cuban staff.
"As a broadcaster, we have been closely watching current changes in Cuba
and if there is going to be a market. The companies we work with, all
wanted to go to Cuba to produce products," founder and CEO of CIN, Barry
H. Pasternak, told el Nuevo Herald. Currently, the company offers "from
a one camera commercial shoot up to virtually any event," through
collaborations with major producers such as Gearhouse Broadcast and PRG.
The company, with offices in Miami, obtained the license on March 20,
after waiting more than a year in a process that began in December 2015
under the administration of former President Barack Obama. The company
is authorized to shoot on the island but is still waiting for Cuban
government permits to have its own facility on the island.
Pasternak said he did not know why the process had taken so long but he
was "happy to see that the government feels that we are trying to
benefit the United States. We are Americans. We want to support an
industry that has never filmed in Cuba, an untouched country and many
people want to see the country."
He also stressed that his company has no political motivations.
"We did not put up the wall, the embargo is out of our area. Our job is
to make movies, to produce quality content. We are not a political
company," said Pasternak, with more than 35 years of experience in
broadcasting in the Caribbean region. CIN is a project dating back to 1992.
"It was hard but we love what we do and we want to do it in a beautiful
location," said the producer, who was previously involved in a
telemedicine project involving an American university, the government of
Cuba and other Caribbean countries.
According to John Kavulich, the president of the US-Cuba Trade and
Economic Council and who first reported on CIN's license, this was not
the first license issued by OFAC since President Donald Trump took
office in January. OFAC did not immediately respond to questions sent by
el Nuevo Herald.
Kavulich also said that there are companies that received licenses in
the final months of the Obama administration and have not yet gone
public for fear of "becoming target for the Trump aministration and/or
becoming the catalyst for policy and regulatory changes by the Trump
During his campaign, Trump promised to renegotiate Obama's opening to
Cuba or cancel the agreements if the Cuban government does not offer
concessions. The White House then announced a full policy review that
has not yet ended, according to a spokeswoman.
During the so-called "thaw" under the Obama administration, several
Hollywood and U.S. television networks flew to Cuba to film for the
first time in nearly half a century. Among the shoots were Fast and
Furious 8, House of Lies and Conan. But the shortage of technology on
the island has increased the costs of these productions. The Rolling
Stones — who staged a massive concert in Havana — and the team of Fast
and Furious had to transport all audio and film equipment they needed to
CIN said it would fill that gap.
The company plans to shoot a classic car rally and broadcast a live jazz
concert to American audiences later this year. Pasternak said he has not
seen changes in the interest of U.S. companies for filming on the
island, a virtually untapped market, although, he said, "I see people
being concerned about the [current] administration."
Siga a Nora Gámez Torres: @ngameztorres
Source: U.S. CIN company gets OFAC license to operate in Cuba | Miami