A few days before Christmas 1986 the Quixote Center, a major shipper of humanitarian supplies to Nicaragua, received a Treasury subpoena requiring it to produce records relating to shipments to Nicaragua since President Reagan restricted trade with that country. Prior to issuing the subpoena, Treasury had denied a license to Oxfam America to ship agricultural tools, and held up a Catholic Relief Service shipment of saw-blades, hammers, and shovels.
The shipments made by Quixote Center consist of medical supplies, clothing, toys, educational supplies and other items intended to relieve human suffering. These items are not covered by the May 7, 1985, trade restrictions. The law governing such donations, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, specifically exempts donated goods intended to relieve human suffering from the ambit of such trade restrictions.
CCR lawyers succeeded in narrowing the scope of the subpoena to bills of lading and inventories prepared as shipping documents. The Quixote Center attracted significant congressional support. After reviewing the documents, Treasury notified the shipper that it found no embargo violations.
Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner.