Opensea Blocks Cuban Users Over U.S. Sanctions

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  • Opensea has blocked Cuban artists and collectors due to U.S. sanctions
  • The move follows similar bans on users in Venezuela, Iran, and Syria
  • The ban will impact the flourishing Cuban digital art scene

NFT giant OpenSea has delisted Cuban artist and collector accounts in order to comply with U.S. sanctions law. The company has previously held similar policies towards countries such as Venezuela, Iran, and Syria, and attention has now turned to Cuba. OpenSea confirmed that the platform’s terms of service “explicitly prohibit sanctioned individuals, individuals in sanctioned jurisdictions, or services from using OpenSea.” This news is likely to be a disappointment for Cuban artists who have been using the platform during the NFT boom of early 2021, a time when the country was deprived of valuable tourist dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opensea Doesn’t Want to Risk Sanctions Breach

The issue actually dates back to earlier in 2022, when Cuban NFT artists suddenly found they couldn’t sell their artworks on Opensea:

Following reports that other Cuban artists and collectors alike had also been deplatformed, Art website Artnet enquired as to why this was happening, and was told by Opensea that it had been forced to delist and block Cuban users in order to comply with U.S. sanctions. As Kraken found out recently, there are stiff punishments for those platforms that flout sanctions laws and allow users in sanctioned countries to operate and earn money.

No Surprise for Cubans

OpenSea’s decision has not come as a surprise to Cuban artists, who have faced U.S. sanctions for the past 60 years. This includes restrictions on the use of platforms such as Zoom, MailChimp, WeTransfer, and Gitlab within Cuba, even when using a VPN. Cuban NFT artist Yordanis García Delgado told Artnet that it is “very difficult to be decentralized and not be accountable to government authorities, thanks to the blockade that the USA maintains against Cuba.”

Some have also pointed out the irony of the decision, which will prevent Cuban artists whose work often challenges government censorship or comments on Cuba’s social and artistic reality from reaching a wider audience.