Friday, December 8, 2017

US Visa Problems for Cuban Musicians

How the partial closure of Havana's U.S. embassy nearly derailed PST: LA/LA's Cuban music festival

NOV 21, 2017 | 3:25 PM

Bringing artists to the U.S. is never an easy task. It’s all the more challenging when those artists live in a country under embargo by the federal government. The promoter of this weekend’s Cuban music and arts component of the arts festival Pacific Standard Time: LA / LA found that out the hard way.

A few months ago, the process of acquiring visas for more than two dozen Cuban musicians was going smoothly, said event curator Betto Arcos, who has been promoting world music performances in Los Angeles for years and hosted the “Global Village” world music program for seven years on KPFK-FM (90.7).

The musicians — hip-hop artist Telmary, Afro-Cuban jazz drummer Yissy Garcia and tres guitarist Pancho Amat, plus their bands — had submitted petitions for visas through the Department of Homeland Security. All but three of 26 applications were approved.

But following a mysterious series of incidents deemed “specific attacks” causing hearing loss and other unexplained illnesses for numerous Americans posted in Havana, more than 20 U.S. Embassy employees were called home from Cuba in September.

One result was that the process of granting visas slowed to a trickle.

Even though their visas had been approved, the musicians Arcos was trying to bring to Los Angeles were unable to acquire them in Havana, putting the three-day “Cuba: Antes, Ahora/Cuba: Then, Now,” festival that opens Thursday in jeopardy.

Through a series of creative moves, and with some assistance from John Feeley, the U.S. Ambassador to Panama, all three headline performers have procured their visas and will appear as scheduled at the festival’s free Friday night program, Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours, which will fill the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with sound and visual installations, art displays, film screenings and live music, as well as at Saturday afternoon’s free Rumba Dance Party + Jam Session in Grand Park.

Garcia is bringing her regular five-piece band, Bandancha, and Amat will travel solo, performing with an L.A.-based Cuban ensemble that specializes in the same traditional son music that Amat plays at home.

“Yissy Garcia, just by chance, was on tour in Argentina, and we got them to stay a little longer,” Arcos said. That’s when he put in a call to ambassador Feeley, whom he’d met years earlier in Washington D.C., before the diplomat was appointed to his post in Panama in 2015. Feeley helped Garcia and her five-piece group get appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires in time to get their visas in hand before returning to Cuba.

For Telmary, who performs with an eight-piece band at home, Arcos said, “We didn’t know what we were going to do — we don’t have the money to fly to anywhere, and that’s eight people.”

Telmary, however, volunteered to use some of the fee she would get to perform in the U.S. to travel with several of her band members to Mexico. She was able to get her visa and those of about half her band from the U.S. Embassy there. She’ll perform this weekend with additional support from three L.A. musicians, two of whom are Cuban.

“The biggest news,” Arcos said last week, “is that I just got word this morning [from Feeley] that Pancho is on his way to L.A. The U.S. Consulate in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic has approved his visa. I just screamed with joy. He is a tower of music and has seen the entire history of the music of Cuba over the last 50 years.”

Amat, however, is coming alone, even though in Havana his band includes a guitarist, two percussionists, a bassist, two singers and a trumpeter in addition to himself on the tres, one of the signature instruments in Cuban son music.

The tres has six strings like a standard acoustic guitar, but they are strung in three pairs, each doubling notes an octave apart, akin to the more common 12-string guitar. The tres, which is native to Cuba and originated in Guantanamo, can cut through the sound of a large ensemble to add a shimmering, vibrant dimension to the overall sound.

Through a bit of serendipity, Amat will perform with an L.A.-based son ensemble led by another Cuban tres player: San Miguel, who immigrated to the U.S. years ago.

“Pancho was his teacher, and mentored him in Havana,” Arcos said. “I told him, ‘We can’t bring your band, but I want you to come. You’re the man. I really want you to be here.’ He said, ‘What am I going to do?’ I said, ‘I want you to play with San Miguel’s band.’ And he said, ‘Yeah — I’m in.’”

Each group highlights a different strand of Cuban music, fulfilling Arcos’ mission in putting a varied Cuban music and arts program together.

It opens Thursday at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, which currently is featuring an exhibition about Cuba. At 7 p.m. Arcos will conduct a ‘Then, Now’ question-and-answer session with Amat, followed by L.A.-based Cuban flutist Danilo Lozano interviewing Garcia, then African American composer and musician Dexter Story in a talk with Telmary.

On Friday, all three bands will perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s late-night session running from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., also featuring guest DJs. Saturday’s jam session in Grand Park downtown will be led by a rumba group from Havana with appearances by Garcia, Telmary and Amat and other guests.

The festival concludes Saturday night when Cuban dance ensemble Malpaso performs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with musical accompaniment from the New York-based Afro Cuban Jazz Band led by Arturo O’Farrill, whose father, Chico O’Farrill, was one of the pioneers of Afro Cuban jazz in the late 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

Arturo O’Farrill also is a new Grammy nominee, picking up a nomination earlier this week for instrumental composition for his work “Three Revolutions.”

Arcos expressed disappointment over the Trump Administration’s recent decision to pull back on the steps President Obama had taken to improve relations with Cuba, following nearly 60 years of the cultural, trade and travel embargo imposed after Fidel Castro’s populist Revolution installed a communist government on the island in 1959.

“This administration has aligned itself with the conservative side of the Cuban American community, but it’s not a monolithic community,” said Arcos, who is Mexican. “The majority of Cubans living in the U.S. don’t want the embargo to continue, because they’ve seen that it doesn’t work.”

That debate is likely to continue in the years ahead, but for now, Arcos’ focus is on what’s looming this weekend.

“The main thing here is it will give people an impression of what Cuba is,” he said. “It’s much more than most people think about it, and they’re going to get a chance to see it all. It’s going to be a party.”

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New Approach to a Tour of Eastern Cuba

Exploring Cuba’s Roots:
An Independent Travel Collaboration*
in Support of the Cuban People of the Oriente
at the time of Carnival

An opportunity to combine the freedom and spontaneity of the new general license for individual travel with a structured program that introduces you to Cuban history and culture in the country’s vital east end, and the past and current role of the US. 

Bed and breakfast private housing and intercity transportation will be provided by organizers.  The majority of lunches and dinners and consumption at evening events will not be included.

July 21:  fly Miami or Ft. Lauderdale to Holguin

Holguin 2 nights   July 21-22
Pre Columbus Cuba: Visit the gravesite museum and the replica of a Taino village
Visit the company town of United Fruit and the church in Banes
Visit the landing site of Dynamite Johnny O’Brien to bring arms and soldiers for the mambisis
Enjoy the beach with Cubans at Guardalavaca
Two nights of music and dance with Cuban friends (Club Nocturno, Casa de Iberoamerica?)

Santiago  3 nights   July 23 – 25
Visit Biran, the large plantation of the father of Fidel and Raul Castro
Visit el Cobre, home of Cuba’s patron saint
Dinner at Terrazas La Caridad, a paladar that also roasts its own coffee
Learn about Carnival at its museum and see at least one night’s costumed parade and visit community celebrations
Enjoy traditional Cuban music and dance, learn to dance at Artex
Visit the Spanish fortress that protected Santiago; the Maceo Memorial honoring a leader of the mambisi independence struggle, with US supporters like Clara Barton and Dynamite Johnny O'Brien; the memorial at San Juan Hill to Teddy Roosevelt’s casualties;  the museum of the Cuban-Spanish-American war for the other side of the story; the Moncada Barracks (the site of the first stage of the Cuban revolution); the gravesites of Jose Marti and Fidel Castro,

Guantanamo 1 night  July 26
Enjoy the place that Cuba’s traditional music originated, including Tumba Francesa and the Museum of Changui.  We are requesting a visit to Caimanera, the town that adjoins the Guantanamo base, with a briefing on Cuba’s view of US occupation.

Baracoa  1 night  July 27
The oldest Spanish settlement and first capital of Cuba; cultivation of cacao and production of local chocolate 

Return to Holguin  1 night  July 28
Drive to Holguin
Relax at a beach en route
Night of music and dance with Cuban friends (Casa de la Trova?)
Fly Holguin to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale on July 29

Scheduled visits will be included in cost for all participants but they can, by notifying the organizer, choose to opt out of any segment and take personal responsibility that their planned activity qualifies under “support for the Cuban people”.  The individual option is not available during intercity travel or stops en route.  We strongly recommend that each participant, couple or family bring an unlocked quad band GSM phone and purchase a Cuban SIM card in order to combine independence and group maintenance.                                                                

 * If this approach is not accepted by Cuban authorities, we will organize a conventional group tour.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Alternative Restrictive Interpretations of Support for the Cuban People

Now, tourists can only visit Cuba ”under the auspices of an organisation subject to US jurisdiction” while they must be accompanied by a US representative of the organisation. Thus, the only means of travelling to Cuba for Americans is through an organised trip.
According to the new rules, “people-to-people” exchanges are banned. Americans who want to meet Cubans will now have to travel in groups accompanied by an authorized representative of the trip’s sponsoring organization.


Now Americans who want to visit Cuba will again be limited to tours sanctioned by the US government, permission for which the Trump administration can make as stringent as it wants. Numbers will drop precipitously.
     -- from an article in the New York Review of Books by Nik Steinberg who served as counselor to the Obama Administration's UN Ambassador Samantha Power. 


As we noted before, the most important policy change with regards to travel is that U.S. travelers can no longer travel on their own under the broad ‘people to people’ category without going through an authorized travel provider like Global Exchange Reality Tours.


Individuals can travel under the Support for the Cuban People Category. This means that anybody can visit Cuba if they spend majority of their time interacting with the Cuban people, supporting the private sector, and supporting civil society (donating to church, synagogue or community program or offering information to entrepreneurs). 

Cuba Educational Travel assists individual travelers in complying with this category, so you can carry out your own itinerary but comply with the law. 


My comment:

Misinformation, disinformation?

This is reminiscent of the Bush era USAID counterproductive nonsense that tied down the first term of President Obama. 

If this is taken seriously by the most suspicious Cuban security people, it is like putting a target on the backs of independent US visitors.  Two, three, many Alan Grosses?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Royal Caribbean Expands Cruises to Santiago and Cienfuegos

Royal Caribbean Doubles Cuba Sailings for 2018

by Daniel McCarthy / 
Royal Caribbean Doubles Cuba Sailings for 2018
Empress of the Seas docked in Miami. Photo: Studio Barcelona/

Royal Caribbean International is doubling down on Cuba.
Despite new, more restrictive Cuba rules announced by the Trump Administration last month, Royal Caribbean will send two ships—Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas—to two new Cuban destinations—Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos—out of Florida next year.

Fuego is right. We’re adding two new destinations to our Cuba sailings with the addition of Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos so you can explore even more of this iconic island. 
“The added sailings and breadth of experiences at the new ports of Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos on the southeast coast give will give your clients even more ways to immerse themselves in the culture and history of the vibrant island,” a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said in an email to travel agents yesterday.
Empress will sail roundtrip from Miami on seven-night Best of Cuba journeys that include stops in Cienfuegos, Havana, and Nassau. The ship will also take five-night sailings with an overnight in Havana and a stop at Key West; and eight-night sailings with stops in Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, Grand Cayman, and Labadee.
Majesty will continue to embark on four- and five-night sailings, including journeys with overnight stays in Havana. Majesty will homeport in South Florida in the winter and Tampa during the summer months.
All of Royal’s sailings offer shore excursions that the cruise line says will meet new U.S. regulations for travel to Cuba.
When the changes to the Cuba policy were initially announced earlier this month, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said at the time that “it does not appear there will be any changes for cruise” despite some fears that there would be.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cuban Tourism Articles

Major Cruise Lines Hold Meeting in Cuba (+Photos)

Havana, Nov 28 (Prensa Latina) The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) began today a two-day meeting in this capital city as part of its foray into Cuban tourism.

Due to the boom of tourism in Cuba, CLIA organized at the Parque Central Hotel in Havana the first symposium on cruise journeys, in which the main managers of 12 cruise companies, especially from the United States, participate.

Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade, Investment and Foreign Collaboration, mentioned in the opening ceremony the benefits and potential of Cuba for cruise ships, as well as the details to be targeted by business with this country.

The meeting was also attended by minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero and head of the General Direction of the United States of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal.

Amid the companies participating in the meeting are American Cruise Line, Virgin Voyager, Carnival Corporation and Pic, Holland American Line, Carinval Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruises Linea Holgings, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Club Cruises.

The meeting is also attended by Silversea Cruises, Celestyal Cruises and Disney Cruises Line.

Currently, the companies Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), Norwegian Cruise Line Holding (NCLH) and Pearl Seas LLP, are operating in Cuba with results considered by authorities as mutually beneficial.

Spokespeople said that Cuba seeks to implement a large program of port infrastructure targeting cruise activities in different ports of the country.

They also said that the economic and commercial blockade set up by the United States against Cuba for more than 50 years hinder the development in this field, as well as others in the country.

Cuban tourism has had a steady rising trend in the most recent years, while envisaging an increased number of hotel rooms, reaching 130,000 ones in the next 10 years.

Cuba is expected to be visited by the unprecedented total number of 4.7 million foreign tourists in 2017.

These sources also pointed out that Cuban ports and their terminals are certified according to the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

Cuban authorities have also signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with nine port authorities in the United States (Virginia, Louisiana, Lake Charles and New Orleans, Alabama, Gulf Port, Pascagoula, Houston and Cleveland).

Until late October 2017, a steady flow of tourists aboard cruise ships was reported, with the main docking port in Havana, a city that has been already visited by 28 cruise ships, with more than 270 port calls.

A report issued on November 4th by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, Inc.,headquartered in New York, indicated that three U.S. cruise companies, which include Cuba in their journeys, will have incomes of $ 623 million USD from 2017 to 2019.

According to that report, the 286 trips to Cuba expected to be made in those years by Norwegian Cruises Lines (NCL), Carnival and Royal Caribbean will carry 455,000 passengers.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is made up of the 25 most important cruise lines in the United States, and it is the largest cruise association in the world, seeking constantly promotion and development.

Cuba Close to 4,7 Million Tourist Arrivals
Havana, Nov 29 (Prensa Latina) Cuba had by November 26 some 4,2 million tourist arrivals, and tourism authorities expect to close 2017 with more than 4,7 million, the president of Viajes Cuba travel agency, Jose Manuel Bisbe, told here Wednesday representatives of important cruise lines.

Bisbe told foreign executives of the largest cruise companies who are meeting in Havana with tourism authorities that 248,000 travelers visited the Island from the U.S. in 2016, compared to this year's 573,000 despite hurdles put up by the administration of Donald Trump.

After highlighting that safety and hospitality are two of the island's values, Bisbe recalled that Cuba has 9 World Heritage sites, 14 National Parks and 257 National Monuments, besides Biosphere Reserves, with a yearly increase of 10 percent in tourist arrivals.

He added there are 68,000 hotel rooms, 69 percent of hotels is ranked as four and five stars and Cuban tourism authorities are carrying out 140 investment projects that include new hotels, properties development associated to golf courses and there is a favorable foreign investment law.

Bisbe further said there are 20 foreign hotel chains with 88 establishments operating in Cuba, representing almost 65 percent of the total, and 27 joint ventures operate 4,500 four and five stars rooms.

The tourist executive envisioned that Cuba hope to have 103,000 hotel rooms by 2030, with 23 marinas, 24 golf courses and 47 projects devoted to adventure. He illustrated that in Peninsula Ramon, eastern province of Holguin, a large tourist destination with 19,159 rooms is under construction.

He added that in Sabinal Key, to the north of the central province of Camaguey, a hotel complex with 12,785 rooms is being developed, while constructions in Paredon Grande Key and Las Brujas Key include 2,895 rooms. The latter will host next May the International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2018.

The Cruise Lines International Association chose Havana for its meeting as Cuba is enjoying a tourist boom. Executives from the 12 most important cruise lines, most of them based in the U.S. are attending the gathering.

Tour Operator Affirms Right to Independent Travel

You Can Still Travel To Cuba Individually. Here’s How:


Confusion over President Trump’s new policy has led Americans to reconsider their travel to the island. Fear not, Americans. Your trip to Cuba is still legal.

What’s changed?

The State Department released a list of entities with which Americans are banned from doing business. The list included a handful but not all hotels, an unpopular rum brand, a popular soda brand (adios, Cachito), and a few gift shops. Yes, the American government really banned the consumption of Cachito soda. Moving on.

The 12 categories of travel that permit US travel to the island (journalism, religious activities, etc.) have been shuffled around a bit with slight changes. Under Obama’s policy, Americans wishing to travel on their own to Cuba could travel under a category called “people-to-people”. The only requirement: spending all your time interacting with Cubans on the island.

Now, Americans “going rogue” have to use the “Support for the Cuban People” category. The criteria are nearly the same; just now, Americans should have an itinerary of their trip if they are ever audited. That’s it. It’s the same as before, just check a different box and keep your Cuba schedule on file in case someone asks. You will not be asked for an itinerary at the airport in the US or in Cuba, and you can still buy your visa to Cuba at the airports in the US. Remember: this is an American law, not a Cuban law, and you will not be bothered in Cuba for being American.

So, how do you “support the Cuban people”? One of the easiest ways is engaging with Cuba’s private sector full-time, which is not hard to do given the plethora of private dining and Airbnbs’ there are in the country. Additionally, visiting an art studio or drinking a mojito at a private bar counts as “supporting the Cuban people,” especially if you strike up conversations with artists and entrepreneurs along the way. Buying a t-shirt from a private business like Clandestina counts as well.

Hitting the local agricultural market to score some fruit or a city tour in a classic American car will also get you there.

The Clandestina clothing store is an example of a private shop in Old Havana.

You’ll notice: a lot of these things you would be doing anyways.

Companies like Cuba Educational Travel can help you certify that your itinerary is compliant with U.S. government rules. The policy was intended to be confusing to discourage American travel to Cuba without making it illegal. Don’t let it affect your trip – solo travel to Cuba is as legal and incredible as ever.

Isabel Albee works for travel company Cuba Educational Travel. For help planning a trip, contact

Thursday, November 9, 2017

New Regs and a New License for Independent Travel

Comment on Misinterpretation of New Regulations

This Miami Herald article misstates the revised character of the general license for travel to support the Cuban people. In its previous form, it was the license for undertaking anti-state activity. In effect it has become the replacement for the individual general license for people to people travel.

From the Treasury Department press release:
"In accordance with the NSPM, OFAC is requiring that each traveler under this travel category engage in a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. Such activities must also enhance contact with the Cuban people.... Renting a room in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropistas) are examples of authorized activities; however, in order to meet the requirement of a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities. ", i.e. meaningful interaction, enhanced contact.
The intrusive activities that I have deleted from the above for clarity are "or" alternatives, "support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities." Similar language appeared in the old individual general license, written originally to get Sen. Rubio to lift a confirmation block.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development


Press Release

New Cuba Regulations Protect Independent Travelers

Individual visits still easy under revised category

Americans who want to freely travel to Cuba independent of groups and at lower cost have not been affected by new regulations issued on November 9th by the Treasury Department.

The individual general license for people to people travel has been abolished, but equal if not more freedom is now available through a revised category of Support for the Cuban People.

The only limit it imposes is that the travelers must stay in a private bed and breakfast (casa particular) instead of a government owned hotel.  They must "engage in a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. Such activities must also enhance contact with the Cuban people".  

This undiminished opportunity for independent visitors will be good news to US airlines Jet Blue, American, Delta, United and South West as well as AirBnB. The fast growing Cuban private sector that benefits includes owners of bed and breakfasts, restaurants, taxis and support businesses.

The only practical consequence of the new regulations for American visitors on group tours is that they are not supposed to use hotels, bars and stores in Old Havana owned by Habaguanex, including Ernest Hemingway's former hotel home, Ambos Mundos.  This is because the Habaguanex company last year was taken away from the Office of the Historian by GAESA, a military linked holding company.  Should it be restored to the Historians' Office, the hotels will become accessible to Americans again.

A different psychological obstacle to US visitors is the Travel Warning that was issued in September when the US withdrew 60% of the staff from its embassy in Havana.  The warning was a bureaucratic requirement of the drawdown and the reduced ability of the embassy to provide routine citizen services, but had no substantive justification.  The Travel Warning also had no legal force, but created a negative atmosphere for new visitors and affected some institutional insurance, presumably as an unintended consequence. 

Significantly Senator Rubio and his hard line colleagues in Miami are not happy with the new regulations.   Have they explained to constituents yet that their pressure on the State Department led to withdrawal of US consular staff from Havana so grandma and grandpa are not going to be able to get visas to celebrate Christmas and New Years with them in Miami? 

Official text describing Support for the Cuban People, and links to US government documents can be found below.

The Fund for Reconciliation and Development is a non-governmental organization founded in 1985 to support normal US relations with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  For the past twenty years it has undertaken projects seeking the same with Cuba.  Our next program is a performance tour by Irish and Irish American traditional musicians to Holguin and Santiago, November 11 to 18.


Official descriptions of Support for the Cuban People

Frequently Asked Questions

20. What constitutes “support for the Cuban people” for generally authorized travel and other transactions? This general license authorizes, subject to conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, which include activities of recognized human rights organizations; independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; and individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. In accordance with the NSPM, OFAC is amending this general license to require that each traveler utilizing this authorization engage in a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba. OFAC is also amending this general license to exclude from the authorization certain direct financial transactions with entities and subentities identified on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, see 31 CFR § 515.574. 

New Regulations

§ 515.574 Support for the Cuban people.

(a) * * *
Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that:
Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; and
Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.
* * * * *

Note 2 to paragraph (a):
Staying in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropista) are examples of activities that qualify for this general license. However, in order to meet the requirement for a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities.

Treasury Dept Press Release

Support for the Cuban People Travel
In accordance with the NSPM, OFAC is requiring that each traveler under this travel category engage in a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. Such activities must also enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities. Renting a room in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropistas) are examples of authorized activities; however, in order to meet the requirement of a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities.

Full text of Support for the Cuban People section

§515.574   Support for the Cuban People.

(a) General license. The travel-related transactions set forth in §515.560(c) and other transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people are authorized, provided that:

(1) The activities are of:

(i) Recognized human rights organizations;

(ii) Independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; or

(iii) Individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and

(2) Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that:

(i) Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities; and

(ii) Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.

(3) The traveler's schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.

My layman's interpretation:  if your view of your goal is to promote independent activity to strengthen civil society and your activities enhance contact with the result of meaningful interaction, your presence in Cuba will be positive in support of the emerging private sector and you qualify for this general license.  If you are motivated by the other listed goals and act on them, your presence will be regarded as intrusive and not respectful of Cuba's sovereignty. -- John McAuliff

Complete US government documents

New Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions

Treasury Department Fact Sheet