Despite everything, the Caribbean's most impressive island offers one of the world's great travel experiences, from its music and culture to Havana and its other cities, as well as beaches and nature.

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Comment by Donna Esposito on December 18, 2014 at 10:36am

Evelyn, I'm a Canadian so these American rules always seem strange to me. Did you have to stay with your group? And how much beach time did you get? 

Comment by Evelyn Kanter on December 18, 2014 at 10:00am

US tourists, even those with no relatives in Cuba, have been visiting Cuba legally for years. I flew out of Miami, legally. And you can, too. For a vintage car nut like me, Cuba is a museum on wheels. My article on How to travel to Cuba from USA legally

Comment by Ed Wetschler on December 18, 2014 at 9:12am

Normalization of travel between the U.S. and Cuba -- or not? What do you expect to see in the coming year? Ditto, over the next five years? 

Comment by Buzzy Gordon on September 4, 2011 at 3:15pm

USAID has a "regime change budget?" Gee, between that and the CIA, you'd think governments would be toppling all over the place.

The Cubans made their point: Gross never acted in secret or threatened the grip of Cuba's dictatorship. He was arrested, convicted and imprisoned and could have been fined and expelled. Instead he was given an inhumanely harsh sentence, regardless of the state of his health.

Of course, I would never condone any activity that might interfere with a totalitarian government's ability to eavesdrop on its own citizens. Clearly, all of the laws Gross "violated" exist only for the benefit of the Cuban people. 

Comment by John McAuliff on September 3, 2011 at 11:48pm

Alan Gross's arrest and conviction have nothing to do with anti-semetism.

He violated Cuban law by distributing BGAN satellite communications equipment which creates a local wifi network for potentially encrypted e mail and documents.


He was received $600,000 from USAID's regime change budget, another violation of Cuban law.


He said in his appeal hearing:

I have an immense fondness for the people of Cuba, and I am deeply sorry for being a trusting fool. I was duped. I was used. And my family and I have paid dearly for this 

If the Cubans set an example by releasing him for humanitarian reasons, I hope the US responds in appropriate serious fashion..

John McAuliff

Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Comment by Buzzy Gordon on September 3, 2011 at 11:17pm

The Cubans are sure making it difficult to root for easing US restrictions. Looks like they are still mired in Soviet-era anti-Semitism:

Comment by John McAuliff on May 25, 2011 at 2:16pm

To use a US travel agent, it must be an OFAC licensed Travel Service Provider.  The new guidelines are explicit that it is fine to use any travel agent in another country.


The legal question with OFAC is whether as a traveler you have a license, either general or specific.  The only conferences you can legally go to are those organized by a non-Cuban or non-US group that holds meetings in other countries as well.  On the other hand if you are going to Cuba under a general license for professional research, there is no problem with including attendance at a conference as part of that research.  The general license for professional research is not exclusively for academics, although that is the most common use.  Graduate students need a letter from the school saying that the research is related to the degree being pursued. Look at the section on education in the guidelines and send me a personal note to if you have more questions.  


Comment by Anil on May 25, 2011 at 1:51pm

@john: Am I obligated to buy airline tickets from designated carriers ? Some quick questions - 

1. What about attending academic/medical conferences ? Is an invitation enough ? Is the Higher Education faculty/researchers also covered in the general license ?



Comment by John McAuliff on May 21, 2011 at 10:24pm

All those with an honest interest in learning about Cuba can find a legal path, either by signing up for an appropriate open enrollment trip or by putting together their own group. (Let me know if I can help you do that.)

Religious organizations and higher education students can easily go now under a general license without any notification to or permission from bureaucrats in Washington.

 Overview of legal travel:

Links to travel providers

 John McAuliff

Cuba/US People to People Partnership

Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Comment by Ed Wetschler on May 21, 2011 at 8:56pm

From Associated Press:

"The forbidden fruit of American travel is once again within reach. New rules issued by the Obama administration will allow Americans wide access to communist-led Cuba, already a mecca for tourists from other nations.

Within months or even weeks, thousands of people from Seattle to Sarasota could be shaking their hips in tropical nightclubs and sampling the famous stogies, without having to sneak in through a third country and risk the Treasury Department's wrath.

"This is travel to Cuba for literally any American," said Tom Popper, director of Insight Cuba, which took thousands of Americans to Cuba before such programs were put into a deep freeze seven years ago.

But it won't all be a day at the beach or a night at the bar. U.S. visitors may find themselves tramping through sweltering farms or attending history lectures to justify the trips, which are meant, under U.S. policy, to bring regular Cubans and Americans together."




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