Meta Digest

OpenSea imposes ban on Cuban artists

OpenSea: OpenSea said over the weekend that it will prohibit digital artists from sanctioned nations, particularly Cuba.

The news

The ban on OpenSea was made public last week.

NFTcuba.ART, a project that promotes the success of Cuban artists in the NFT sector, tweeted that OpenSea has deactivated its marketplace profile.

“Long time since we posted, unfortunate that this post needs to be this,” the project began.

“@opensea has disabled our profile. “

“Not only do Cubans on the island, but those have other nationalities, have to endure censorship in web3 company.”

“Buying art from Cubans is not banned in the us [sic] embargo.”

Explanation 

A statement from the website NFTcuba.ART reads:

“It’s sad and unfortunate that OpenSea has banned the NFTcubaART profile.”

“Likely just because it has the name Cuba in it and or they are fearful of sanction. Cafeteras are still visible in your wallets and on other websites like foundation and rarible.”

OpenSea, meanwhile, said that it is only abiding under US sanctions law.

“Our Terms of Service explicitly prohibit sanctioned individuals, individuals in sanctioned jurisdictions, or services from using OpenSea,” said an OpenSea spokesperson.

“We continue to holistically evaluate what other measures need to be taken to serve our community and comply with applicable law.”

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Sanctions

US sanctions against Cuba are put into effect by numerous legal authorities.

These are how they manifest:

  • Executive orders
  • Federal statutes
  • Regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

The sanctions are intricate and target a variety of actions, including economic ones.

Due to these limitations, OpenSea stated that Cuban residents are not permitted to use its services.

Previous ban

The most recent ban is not the first time NFTcubaART has expressed dissatisfaction with the OpenSea restriction.

In a previous tweet from March, the project discussed problems with the market and urged artists and collectors to choose sites with different policies.

Iranian artists protested in March about being barred from the market.

“OpenSea blocks users and territories on the US sanction list from using our services – including buying, selling, or transferring NFTs on OpenSea,” said an OpenSea spokesperson.

The marketplace claims that they have a zero-tolerance policy for sanctioned individuals using their services in sanctioned nations.

“If we find individuals to be in violation of our sanctions policy, we take swift action to ban the associated accounts,” said OpenSea.

The following are subject to extensive economic sanctions by the United States:

  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Russia
  • Syria

The US Treasury fined the cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex $53 million in October for enabling users to avoid US sanctions in Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

Artists

Cuban artists claim they were never informed of the reason why their accounts were deleted, according to the news source Associated Press.

Some hypothesized that OpenSea may have chosen to go cautiously rather than recklessly.

The fact that many artists are Cuban ex-pats who no longer reside on the island also adds to the confusion.

NFTcubaArt was founded by Gianni D’Alerta, who currently resides there.

Gabriel Bianchini, who served as the co-host of a project at OpenSea during National Hispanic Heritage Month that featured Cuban artists, resides in Spain.

Read also: Jon Tester, US Senator, still dismissive of crypto

García Alarcón

Garca Alarcón, better known by his artist name Paolo De, is one of the Cuban artists who has flourished as a result of NFTs.

“The first thing that drew me to it [NFT] was the freedom,” said Alarcón.

“You can commercialize your work without intermediaries, without having to pass through a filter.”

One of the Cuban artists whose profile was removed from two American-owned NFT trading platforms, OpenSea and KnownOrigin, is Garca Alarcón.

In April 2021, the Cuban artist began making NFT trades on OpenSea.

His debut piece was a political critique of the contentious 2021 arrests of artists from Cuba who were staging a protest.

He received $200 for his efforts, and he subsequently sold about 20 more NFTs on the website.

On OpenSea, Garca Alarcón has occasionally been recommended as an artist to watch.

However, he was unexpectedly locked out of his account in March of last year.

“They sell you the idea of freedom, that you can show your work, that there’s no censorship,” said Alarcón.

“You can use the platform to show what you can’t show in your own country, and then this happens.”

References:

NFT marketplace OpenSea confirms ban on Cuban artists

Cuban artists blocked from once-promising NFT trading sites

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