Sunday, September 2, 2012

Travel to Cuba: ...U.S. authorities have implemented a series of bureaucratic measures restricting ‘People to People’ travel to Cuba

U.S. Treasury Department continues to obstruct travel to Cuba

WASHINGTON, August 27.— U.S. authorities have implemented a series of bureaucratic measures restricting ‘People to People’ travel to Cuba. This particular program was reinitiated by the Obama administration in 2011, although it did not entail any substantive change in U.S. policy toward Cuba and left the blockade intact.

The new measures have complicated trips between the United States and Cuba. Now, according to Department of Treasury regulations, paperwork required to request a license to organize trips to Cuba has been expanded from six to hundreds of pages.

Prensa Latina reports that in order to renew such licenses, tour operators must document every minute of activities organized during previous trips to Cuba, to prove that visits did not include anything which could be described as standard tourism.

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press revealed that practically none of the organizations with licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control allowing them to organize trips to Cuba in the ‘People to People’ category have received renewals.

Jim Friedlander, president of the Academic Arrangements Abroad travel agency in New York, commented that his company works with close to 30 non-profit organizations which have activities planned in Cuba over the next 12 months and that none of them have received a renewal.

Groups which have not been able to renew their licenses for travel to Cuba include Harvard Alumni, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic Society, Cuba Insight and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Early in the George W. Bush administration, restrictions on travel to Cuba were tightened and ‘People to People’ contact, established by Clinton, was eliminated as an option. This program allows academic, student and religious exchanges to be organized under a Department of Treasury ‘general’ license.

In any event, travel to Cuba by U.S, citizens remains prohibited despite these exceptions. 


August 29, 2012