Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Back to 1959
I have always wanted to go to Cuba since I was born in 1959, the year of the revolution. From all I had read, time seemed to have stood still in that country since then and I wanted to visit before Castro fell, the United States lifted the embargo, American developers invaded, and it became another Cancun. Thanks to the trade embargo and travel restrictions, Americans cannot travel to Cuba. Well there is that small print that allows a few to travel there for approved humanitarian reasons (although not directly from the US), however they are not allowed to spend any money - a slight inconvenience.
This year the Obama administration reinstated the "people to people" program the Bush administration had banned in 2003. The thought was that finally Americans could travel to Cuba. But not so fast. According to US Today "On July 25, OFAC issued a "Cuba Travel Advisory," which cited "misstatements in the media suggesting that U.S. foreign policy ... now allows for virtually unrestricted group travel to Cuba by persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The statement added that "the amended Regulations still contain significant travel restrictions." For one thing, "all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. Authorized activities by People-to-People Groups are not 'tourist activities' under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, which prohibits OFAC from licensing travel-related transactions for tourist activities." "