The subcategory of travel to Cuba referred to as self-directed INDIVIDUAL people to people travel was eliminated.
- If someone has already made their request for INDIVIDUAL people to people educational travel PRIOR TO JUNE 16, their travel is still OK under this subcategory – NO MATTER when it is to take place and no matter if it has been confirmed yet.
- No new reservations can be requested in this category as of June 16.
GROUP people to people travel remains the same: here is that subcategory as described by OFAC:
- People-to-People Exchanges (Section 515.565(b)): Organizations participating in educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree; provided that:
- Travel must be for purposes of engaging in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from the Cuban authorities;
- Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interaction with the Cuban people;
- The predominant portion of the activities cannot be with or on behalf of individuals or entities acting for Prohibited Government Officials or Prohibited Communist Party members (as defined in the CACR);
- Travel must be conducted under the auspices of an organization that sponsors exchanges to promote people-to-people contacts, and an employee, paid consultant or agent of the sponsoring organization must travel with each group to ensure that each traveler has a full-time schedule of educational activities; and
- The organization and the travelers must maintain records for 5 years sufficient to demonstrate that each traveler has engaged in a full-time schedule of activities that satisfy requirements (i) through (iii).
- All other categories remain the same
- No Specific License requests are needed.
Travel arrangements which include “direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services” will not be allowed.
- No list has yet been published by the State Department which indicates what these ‘entities’ may be. Most speculation includes those hotels owned by the Cuban company Gaviota (around 50 or 60 hotels throughout the country), which itself is owned by the Cuban company GAESA referenced in the material announced on June 16. There are also specialized tours, restaurants, a bus company, and a charter air company, also owned by Gaviota.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Groups which have already been requested which may include any of these hotels and services and groups which are requested before the “issuance” of the new regulations with the list of these entities are OK. We have already made group reservation requests through 2018 and for some in 2019. We can make additional group requests for any hotel in Cuba until the new regulations are issued.
- Marazul has no contracts with, nor do we have any “direct transactions with,” any hotels in Cuba. As per Cuban regulations, our payments are made through transactions with one or another of the authorized Cuban tour operators. Until the new regulations are issued, we will not know if “indirect” transactions are included.
- We do not yet have the exact date when the new regulations will be issued. The White House indicated that they are directing the Treasury and Commerce Departments to begin the process of issuing new regulations within 30 days. The policy changes will not take effect until those departments have finalized their new regulations, a process which may take several months.
There will be increased enforcement of the travel regulations but we do not have specific information yet about the nature of this enforcement. Within the 12 categories of authorized travel under a General License, travelers have been and are required to maintain records of their trip for 5 years. There is nothing new in this requirement though it is more likely now that there will be spot checks for compliance. All travelers in people to people groups should have readily available copies of their “full schedule of educational activities” when they return to the U.S. from Cuba.
Since 1979, Marazul has always stood for a complete end to any and all restrictions on our right to travel and for an end of the U.S. embargo. We urge all our friends and clients to contact your representative to protest this return to the Cold War policies of ‘regime change’ and further restrictions on our right to travel.
As Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) stated in response to Friday’s speech:
“Any policy change that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people. It is time Senate leadership finally allowed a vote on my bipartisan bill to fully lift these archaic restrictions which do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world. The bill [Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017] has 55 total cosponsors and I am convinced it would pass the Senate with upwards of 70 votes.”