Cuba, Now: Viva la Commercial Revolución


Jaunted:

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the focus on future trips to the country is growing wildly. A Jaunted special secret correspondent just returned from a period in Cuba, and she’ll be sharing her impressions of the country, the people and their hopes all this week.

What struck me most powerfully on arriving in Havana was the complete absence of advertising.

Traveling to Cuba from the world’s commercial super-center—the USA—is like diving from a hot, sweaty and crowded monkey cage into a refreshingly vast and empty pool. There is nothing in most Cuban shops beyond a packet of dried black beans and some powdered custard—the same brand, always the same brand. You can’t buy or sell a car made after Castro’s 1959 communist revolution. Toasters and other domestic essentials were until recently banned. Decadent, capitalist toasters!

So the question is: are Cubans ready for the commercial revolution that will sweep through the island like a rainy-season hurricane the moment the US embargo falls?

The answer: a qualified yes. Havana’s streets buzz with the first signs of commercialism, appearing like spring daffodils out of hard, barren soil. Privately-owned restaurants (paladares) and guesthouses (casas particulares) are reaching a critical mass; there are art and photo galleries, mobile phone stores, the odd shop (with uniformed guard) selling Adidas sneakers. You can even, in some places, get hold of a can of real Coke.

The delicate sensibilities of tourists are increasingly being understood, particularly in the tourist haven of Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Gleaming hotels part-owned by Spanish investors serve pumpkin ravioli and pungent French wines, and crumbling mansions are being scrubbed clean and brought back to life with the help of tourist dollars and a sprightly, visionary City Historian named Eusebio Leal.

Cubans have already developed a taste for tourism, thanks to the 2.5 million or so Canadians and Europeans who already visit the island each year. Which is lucky, because apart from nickel, cigars, Ché memorabilia and medicines made from sugar cane and placenta (not lying), there isn’t much else sustaining the stagnant Cuban economy.

Anti-American sentiment is still rife in propaganda—George Dubya and Ronald Reagan share a ‘Cretins’ Corner’ in the Revolution Museum—but on the streets people talk enthusiastically about a possible influx of American tourists. Standing in a shaft of sunlight on Plaza Vieja, a bookseller with a neatly pressed necktie and eyes burning with revolutionary zeal told me how, thanks to socialism, he could read, write, feed his family and last October have a much-needed hernia operation. “I’m socialist hasta las entrañas,” he said—right to my entrails (perhaps, I thought, due to the hernia operation). “Viva la revolución! But you know, I’d love to sell these books to Americans.” The fire in his pupils turned to a glint.

The moral of the story:

If you like your beaches to come with clean toilets, ice, window-shopping and all the other trappings of a fully developed commercial culture, then wait at least ten years after the embargo is dropped.

If you want a glimpse of another world—twisted, surreal and colorful as a Picasso painting, where people still eat to live and wear clothes for warmth—then come now, or just as the Cuban people break down their wall. In between will be chaos.

www.particularcuba.com

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New OFAC 2011 Cuba travel regulations


Havana Journal:

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Office of Foreign Assets Control
31 CFR Part 515
CUBAN ASSETS CONTROL REGULATIONS
ACTION: Final rule

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future.

These amendments implement policy changes announced by the President on January 14, 2011, designed to increase people to people contact, support civil society in Cuba, enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people, and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.

To implement these policy changes, OFAC is taking steps that build upon the President’s April 2009 initiative to, among other things, allow for greater licensing of travel to Cuba for educational, cultural, religious, and journalistic activities and expand licensing of remittances to Cuba. These amendments also modify regulations regarding authorization of transactions with Cuban national individuals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, as well as implement certain technical and conforming changes.

Background

The U.S. Government issued the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515 (the “Regulations”), on July 8, 1963, under the Trading With the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. App. 5 et seq.). On September 3, 2009, OFAC amended the Regulations to implement measures announced by the President in April 2009 to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba by easing travel restrictions to facilitate greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba and by increasing the flow of remittances and information to the Cuban people.

OFAC is now amending the Regulations to implement certain policy changes announced by the President on January 14, 2011, to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future. These amendments allow for greater licensing of travel to Cuba for educational, cultural, religious, and journalistic activities and expand licensing of remittances to Cuba. These amendments also modify regulations regarding authorization of transactions with Cuban national individuals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, as well as implement certain technical and conforming changes.

Travel to Cuba for educational activities

Section 515.565 is amended to implement policy changes for travel-related transactions incident to educational activities. A new general license authorizing accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions to engage in Cuba travel related transactions incident to certain educational activities replaces the former statement of specific licensing policy in paragraph (a) of section 515.565. Specific licenses issued pursuant to former paragraph (a) were limited to one year in duration and covered only “full-time permanent” employees of, and students enrolled “at,” a particular licensed institution.

The new general license authorizes transactions incident to the educational activities described in paragraph (a) of section 515.565 by all members of the faculty and staff (including but not limited to adjunct faculty and part-time staff) of a sponsoring U.S. academic institution. The new general license also authorizes students to participate in academic activities in Cuba through any sponsoring U.S. academic institution, not only through the accredited U.S. academic institution at which the student is pursuing a degree. The requirement that participation in a structured educational program in Cuba or participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution be no shorter than 10 weeks in duration is removed, and the new general license instead requires that the study in Cuba be accepted for credit toward the student’s degree.

Revised paragraph (b) of section 515.565 sets forth specific licensing policies. Paragraph (b)(1) provides that specific licenses may be issued to authorize travel-related transactions incident to an individual’s educational activities of certain types described in but that are not authorized by the new general license contained in revised paragraph (a). New paragraph (b)(3) allows accredited U.S. graduate or undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions, by specific license, to sponsor or co-sponsor academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba, and it allows faculty, staff, and students of such institutions to attend those events. A new note to section 515.565 explains that U.S. academic institutions may open accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions authorized pursuant to that section. Nothing in these amendments authorizes U.S. financial institutions to open or use direct correspondent accounts of their own at Cuban financial institutions.

People-to-people exchanges

OFAC also is adding new paragraph (b)(2) to section 515.565 to restore a statement of specific licensing policy for “people-to-people” exchanges. This travel category provides for specific licenses authorizing educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program when those exchanges take place under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes such programs to promote people-to-people contact.

Travel to Cuba for religious activities

Section 515.566 is amended to implement policy changes for travel-related transactions incident to religious activities. A new general license authorizing religious organizations located in the United States to engage in Cuba travel-related transactions incident to religious activities replaces the former statement of specific licensing policy in paragraph (a) of section 515.566. Revised paragraph (b) provides that specific licenses may be issued to authorize travel-related transactions incident to religious activities that are not authorized by the new general license contained in revised paragraph (a). A new note to section 515.566 explains that religious organizations may open accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions authorized pursuant to that section. Nothing in these amendments authorizes U.S. financial institutions to open or use direct correspondent accounts of their own at Cuban financial institutions.

Other travel to Cuba

Section 515.567, including its heading, is revised to restore a statement of specific licensing policy for travel-related transactions incident to participation in clinics or workshops. New paragraph (b)(3) of section 515.567 includes a condition that any clinics or workshops in Cuba must be organized and run, at least in part, by the licensee.

Paragraph (b) of section 515.563 is amended to increase the scope of the statement of specific licensing policy for journalistic activities in Cuba to include free-lance journalistic projects other than “articles.”

Remittances

OFAC also is amending section 515.570 to implement several policy changes regarding remittances to Cuba. New paragraph (b) contains a general license authorizing persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to remit up to $500 per quarter to any Cuban national, except prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party, to support the development of private businesses, among other purposes. A second general license has been added in new paragraph (c), authorizing unlimited remittances to religious organizations in Cuba in support of religious activities. Prior to this amendment, remittances to religious organizations in Cuba were authorized by specific license. New paragraph (d) contains a third new general license, authorizing remittances to close relatives who are students in Cuba pursuant to an educational license for the purpose of funding transactions authorized by the license under which the student is traveling. Former paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) have been redesignated as paragraphs (e), (f), and (g), respectively. Newly redesignated paragraph (g)(1) of section 515.570 has been revised to clarify that specific licenses may be issued to authorize remittances to individuals or independent non-governmental entities to support the development of private businesses, including small farms.

Certain transactions with Cuban nationals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba

Section 515.505, including its heading, is revised to add a general license in new paragraph (d) authorizing certain transactions with individual nationals of Cuba who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba (former paragraphs (d) and (e) have been redesignated as paragraphs (e) and (f), respectively). Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may engage in transactions with such individuals, prospectively, as if they were unblocked Cuban nationals as defined in section 515.307 of this part. All property in which such Cuban nationals have an interest that was blocked pursuant to this part prior to the later of the date on which the individual took up permanent residence outside of Cuba or—INSERT DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER—however, remains blocked. To determine whether an individual Cuban national has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are required to collect copies of at least two documents issued to the individual by the government authorities of the new country of permanent residence. An example illustrating the application of this general license is found in new paragraph (f)(4).

Public Participation

Because the amendments of the Regulations involve a foreign affairs function, Executive Order 12866 and the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) requiring notice of proposed rulemaking, opportunity for public participation, and delay in effective date are inapplicable. Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required for this rule, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) does not apply.

Paperwork Reduction Act

The collections of information related to the Regulations are contained in 31 CFR part 501 (the Reporting, Procedures and Penalties Regulations”). Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), those collections of information have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1505-0164. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a valid control number.

List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 515

Administrative practice and procedure, Banking, Blocking of Assets, Cuba, Remittances, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Travel restrictions.

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control amends 31 CFR part 515 as set forth below:

PART 515—CUBAN ASSETS CONTROL REGULATIONS

1. The authority citation for part 515 is revised to read as follows:

Authority: 18 U.S.C. 2332d; 22 U.S.C. 2370(a), 6001-6010, 7201-7211; 31 U.S.C. 321(b); 50 U.S.C. App 1-44; Pub. L. 101-410, 104 Stat. 890 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note); Pub. L. 104-114, 110 Stat. 785 (22 U.S.C. 6021-6091); Pub. L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681; Pub. L. 111-8, 123 Stat. 524; Pub. L. 111-117, 123 Stat. 3034; E.O. 9193, 7 FR 5205, 3 CFR, 1938-1943 Comp., p. 1174; E.O. 9989, 13 FR 4891, 3 CFR, 1943-1948 Comp., p. 748; Proc. 3447, 27 FR 1085, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 157; E.O. 12854, 58 FR 36587, 3 CFR, 1993 Comp., p. 614.

Subpart E—Licenses, Authorizations, and Statements of Licensing Policy

2. Amend § 515.505 by revising the section heading and paragraph (b), by redesignating paragraphs (d) and (e) as paragraphs (e) and (f), respectively, by adding new paragraph (d), and by adding new paragraph (f)(4) to read as follows:

§ 515.505 Certain Cuban nationals unblocked; transactions of certain other Cuban nationals lawfully present in the United States; transactions with Cuban nationals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba.

* * * * *

(b) Specific licenses unblocking certain individuals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba. Individual nationals of Cuba who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba may apply to the Office of Foreign Assets Control to be specifically licensed as unblocked nationals. Applications for specific licenses under this paragraph should include copies of at least two documents indicating permanent residence issued by the government authorities of the new country of permanent residence, such as a passport, voter registration card, permanent resident alien card, or national identity card. In cases where two of such documents are not available, other information will be considered, such as evidence that the individual has been resident for the past two years without interruption in a single country outside of Cuba or evidence that the individual does not intend to, or would not be welcome to, return to Cuba.

* * * * *

(d) General license authorizing certain transactions with individuals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba.

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are authorized to engage in any transaction with an individual national of Cuba who has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba as if the individual national of Cuba were an unblocked national, as defined in § 515.307 of this part, except that all property in which the individual national of Cuba has an interest that was blocked pursuant to this part prior to the later of the date on which the individual took up permanent residence outside of Cuba or [INSERT DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER] shall remain blocked.

In determining whether an individual national of Cuba has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction must obtain from the individual copies of at least two documents indicating permanent residence issued by the government authorities of the new country of permanent residence, such as a passport, voter registration card, permanent resident alien card, or national identity card.

(f) * * *

(4) Example 4: An individual national of Cuba who has taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba wishes to open a bank account at a branch of a U.S. bank in Spain and then withdraw a portion of her previously blocked funds held by the same U.S. bank’s New York branch. The individual provides the Spanish branch with a copy of her third-country passport and voter registration card demonstrating her permanent residence status in the third country. The Spanish branch may open an account for the individual and provide her with banking services. The New York branch may also handle any transactions related to this new account processed through the United States but may not unblock her funds that had been blocked prior to the later of the date on which the individual took up permanent residence outside of Cuba or [INSERT DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER]. Those funds remain blocked unless and until the individual is licensed as an unblocked national pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) of this section or the funds are otherwise unblocked by a separate Office of Foreign Assets Control authorization.

§ 515.560 Travel-related transactions to, from, and within Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction

3. Amend § 515.560 by revising paragraphs (a)(5) through (7), (c)(4)(i) and (ii), and (f) and by adding new paragraph (d)(3) to read as follows:

(a) * * *
(5) Educational activities (general and specific licenses) (see § 515.565);
(6) Religious activities (general and specific licenses) (see § 515.566);
(7) Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions (specific licenses) (see § 515.567);
(c) * * *
(4) * * *
(i) The total of all remittances authorized by § 515.570(a) through (d) does not exceed $3,000
(ii) No emigration remittances authorized by § 515.570(e)
are carried to Cuba unless a U.S. immigration visa has been issued for each payee and the licensed traveler can produce the visa recipients’ full names, dates of birth, visa numbers, and visa dates of issuance.

(d) * * *
(3) Compensation earned by a Cuban national from a U.S. academic institution up to any amount that can be substantiated through payment receipts from such institution as authorized pursuant to § 515.565(a)(5).

* * * * *

(f) Nothing in this section authorizes transactions in connection with tourist travel to Cuba.

§ 515.563 Journalistic activities in Cuba

4. Amend § 515.563 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:

(b) Specific licenses. (1) Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and other transactions that are directly incident to journalistic activities in Cuba for a free-lance journalistic project upon submission of an adequate written application including the following documentation:

(i) A detailed itinerary and a detailed description of the proposed journalistic activities

(ii) A resume or similar document showing a record of journalism.

(2) To qualify for a specific license pursuant to this section, the itinerary in Cuba for a free-lance journalistic project must demonstrate that the journalistic activities constitute a full work schedule that could not be accomplished in a shorter period of time.

(3) Specific licenses may be issued pursuant to this section authorizing transactions for multiple trips to Cuba over an extended period of time by applicants demonstrating a significant record of journalism.

§ 515.565 Educational activities

5. Revise § 515.565 to read as follows:

(a) General license

Accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions, including faculty, staff, and students of such institutions, are authorized to engage in the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and such additional transactions that are directly incident to:

(1) Participation in a structured educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by the sponsoring U.S. academic institution. An individual traveling to engage in such transactions must carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, stating that the Cuba-related travel is part of a structured educational program of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, and stating that the individual is a member of the faculty or staff of that institution or is a student currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. academic institution and that the study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward that degree;

(2) Noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining a graduate degree. A student traveling to engage in such transactions must carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, stating that the individual is a student currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at an accredited U.S. academic institution, and stating that the research in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward that degree;

(3) Participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the formal course of study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward the student’s graduate or undergraduate degree. An individual traveling to engage in such transactions must carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, stating that the individual is a student currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. academic institution and that the study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward that degree;

(4) Teaching at a Cuban academic institution by an individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution and provided that the duration of the teaching will be no shorter than 10 weeks. An individual traveling to engage in such transactions must carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, stating that the individual is regularly employed in a teaching capacity at that institution;

(5) Sponsorship, including the payment of a stipend or salary, of a Cuban scholar to teach or engage in other scholarly activity at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution (in addition to those transactions authorized by the general license contained in § 515.571). Such earnings may be remitted to Cuba as provided in § 515.570 or carried on the person of the Cuban scholar returning to Cuba as provided in § 515.560(d)(3)

(6) The organization of, and preparation for, activities described in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(5) of this section by members of the faculty and staff of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution. An individual engaging in such transactions must carry a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, stating that the individual is a member of the faculty or staff of that institution, and is traveling to engage in the transactions authorized by this paragraph on behalf of that institution.

Note 1 to paragraph (a):

U.S. academic institutions and individual travelers must retain records related to the travel transactions authorized pursuant to this paragraph. See §§ 501.601 and 501.602 of this chapter for applicable recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Exportation of equipment and other items, including the transfer of technology or software to foreign persons (“deemed exportation”), may require separate authorization from the Department of Commerce.

Note 2 to paragraph (a):

This paragraph authorizes all members of the faculty and staff (including but not limited to adjunct faculty and part-time staff) of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution to participate in the activities described in this paragraph. A student currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program at any accredited U.S. academic institution is authorized pursuant to this paragraph to participate in the academic activities in Cuba described above through any sponsoring U.S. academic institution, not only through the institution at which the student is pursuing a degree.

(b) Specific licenses. Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and other transactions directly incident to:

(1) An individual’s educational activities of the types described in paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(4) of this section but not authorized by the general license contained in paragraph (a) of this section;

(2) Educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program when those exchanges take place under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes such programs to promote people-to-people contact (3) Sponsorship or co-sponsorship by an accredited U.S. graduate or undergraduate degree-granting academic institution of academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba and attendance at such events by faculty, staff, and students of the licensed institution.

(c) Transactions related to activities that are primarily tourist-oriented, including self-directed educational activities that are intended only for personal enrichment, will not be authorized pursuant to this section.

(d) For the purposes of this section, the term designated representative of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution means a person designated by the relevant dean or the academic vice president, provost, or president of the institution as the official responsible for overseeing the institution’s Cuba travel program.

Note to § 515.565:

Accredited U.S. academic institutions engaging in activities authorized pursuant to this section are permitted to open and maintain accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions authorized pursuant to this section.

§ 515.566 Religious activities in Cuba

6. Revise § 515.566 to read as follows:

(a) General license

Religious organizations located in the United States, including members and staff of such organizations, are authorized to engage in the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and such additional transactions as are directly incident to religious activities in Cuba under the auspices of the organization. Travel related transactions pursuant to this authorization must be for the purpose of engaging, while in Cuba, in a full-time program of religious activities. Financial and material donations to Cuba or Cuban nationals are not authorized by this paragraph (a).

All individuals who engage in transactions in which Cuba or Cuban nationals have an interest (including travel-related transactions) pursuant to this paragraph (a) must carry with them a letter on official letterhead, signed by a designated representative of the U.S. religious organization, confirming that they are members or staff of the organization and are traveling to Cuba to engage in religious activities under the auspices of the organization.

Note to paragraph (a):

U.S. religious organizations and individual travelers must retain records related to the travel transactions authorized pursuant to this paragraph. See §§ 501.601 and 501.602 of this chapter for applicable recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Financial donations require separate authorization under § 515.570. See § 515.533 for an authorization of the exportation of items from the United States to Cuba. Exportation of items to be used in Cuba may require separate licensing by the Department of Commerce.

(b) Specific licenses

Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and other transactions that are directly incident to religious activities not authorized by the general license contained in paragraph (a) of this section. The application for the specific license must set forth examples of religious activities to be undertaken in Cuba. Specific licenses may be issued pursuant to this section authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time to engage in a full-time program of religious activities in Cuba.

(c) For the purposes of this section, the term designated representative of the U.S. religious organization means a person designated as the official responsible for overseeing the organization’s Cuba travel program.

Note to § 515.566:

Religious organizations engaging in activities authorized pursuant to this section are permitted to open and maintain accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions authorized pursuant to this section.

§ 515.567 Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions

7. Amend § 515.567 by revising the section heading and paragraph (b) to read as follows:

(b) Public performances, clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and exhibitions. Specific licenses, including for multiple trips to Cuba over an extended period of time, may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and other transactions that are directly incident to participation in a public performance, clinic, workshop, athletic competition not covered by paragraph (a) of this section, non-athletic competition, or exhibition in Cuba by participants in such activities, provided that:

(1) The event is open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public;

(2) All U.S. profits from the event after costs are donated to an independent nongovernmental organization in Cuba or a U.S.-based charity, with the objective, to the extent possible, of promoting people-to-people contacts or otherwise benefiting the Cuban people (3) Any clinics or workshops in Cuba must be organized and run, at least in part, by the licensee.

* * * * *

§ 515.570 Remittances

8. Revise § 515.570 to read as follows:

(a) Family remittances authorized.

Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States who are 18 years of age or older are authorized to make remittances to nationals of Cuba who are close relatives, as defined in § 515.339 of this part, of the remitter, provided that:

(1) The remittances are not made from a blocked source. Certain remittances from blocked accounts are authorized pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section;

(2) The recipient is not a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in § 515.337 of this part, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in § 515.338 of this part

(3) The remittances are not made for emigration-related purposes. Remittances for emigration-related purposes are addressed by paragraph (e) of this section.

(b) Periodic $500 remittances authorized.

Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are authorized to make remittances to Cuban nationals, including, but not limited to, remittances to support the development of private businesses, provided that:

(1) The remitter’s total remittances pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section to any one Cuban national do not exceed $500 in any consecutive three-month period

(2) The remittances are not made from a blocked source

(3) The recipient is not a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in § 515.337 of this part, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in § 515.338 of this part;

(4) The remittances are not made for emigration-related purposes. Remittances for emigration-related purposes are addressed by paragraph (e) of this section

(5) The remitter, if an individual, is 18 years of age or older

(c) Remittances to religious organizations in Cuba authorized

Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are authorized to make remittances to religious organizations in Cuba in support of religious activities, provided that the remittances are not made from a blocked source and that the remitter, if an individual, is 18 years of age or older.

(d) Remittances to students in Cuba pursuant to an educational license authorized.

Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States who are 18 years of age or older are authorized to make remittances to close relatives, as defined in § 515.339 of this part, who are students in Cuba pursuant to the general license authorizing certain educational activities in § 515.565(a) of this part or a specific license issued pursuant to § 515.565(b) of this part, provided that the remittances are not made from a blocked source and are for the purpose of funding transactions authorized by the general license in § 515.565(a) of this part or the specific license issued pursuant to § 515.565(b) of this part under which the student is traveling.

(e) Two one-time $1,000 emigration-related remittances authorized.

Persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are authorized to remit the following amounts:

(1) Up to $1,000 per payee on a one-time basis to Cuban nationals for the purpose of covering the payees’ preliminary expenses associated with emigrating from Cuba to the United States. These remittances may be sent before the payees have received valid visas issued by the State Department or other approved U.S. immigration documents, but may not be carried by a licensed traveler to Cuba until the payees have received valid visas issued by the State Department or other approved U.S. immigration documents. See § 515.560(c)(4) of this part for the rules regarding the carrying of authorized remittances to Cuba. These remittances may not be made from a blocked source unless authorized pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.

(2) Up to an additional $1,000 per payee on a one-time basis to Cuban nationals for the purpose of enabling the payees to emigrate from Cuba to the United States, including for the purchase of airline tickets and payment of exit or third-country visa fees or other travel-related fees. These remittances may be sent only once the payees have received valid visas issued by the State Department or other approved U.S. immigration documents. A remitter must be able to provide the visa recipients’ full names, dates of birth, visa numbers, and visa dates of issuance. See § 515.560(c)(4) of this part for the rules regarding the carrying of authorized remittances to Cuba. These remittances may not be made from a blocked source unless authorized pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.

(f) Certain remittances from blocked sources authorized.

Provided the recipient is not a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as defined in § 515.337 of this part, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in § 515.338 of this part, certain remittances from blocked sources are authorized as follows:

(1) Funds deposited in a blocked account in a banking institution in the United States held in the name of, or in which the beneficial interest is held by, a national of Cuba as a result of a valid testamentary disposition, intestate succession, or payment from a life insurance policy or annuity contract triggered by the death of the policy or contract holder may be remitted:

(i) To that national of Cuba, provided that s/he is a close relative, as defined in § 515.339 of this part, of the decedent

(ii) To that national of Cuba as emigration-related remittances in the amounts and consistent with the criteria set forth in paragraph (e) of this section.

(2) Up to $300 in any consecutive three-month period may be remitted from any blocked account in a banking institution in the United States to a Cuban national in a third country who is an individual in whose name, or for whose beneficial interest, the account is held.

(g) Specific licenses.

Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the following:

(1) Remittances by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to independent non-governmental entities in Cuba, including but not limited to pro-democracy groups and civil society groups, and to members of such groups or organizations, or to individuals or independent non-governmental entities to support the development of private businesses, including small farms;

(2) Remittances from a blocked account to a Cuban national in excess of the amount specified in paragraph (f)(2) of this section

(3) Remittances by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to a person in Cuba, directly or indirectly, for transactions to facilitate non-immigrant travel by an individual in Cuba to the United States under circumstances where humanitarian need is demonstrated, including but not limited to illness or other medical emergency.

Note to §515.570:

For the rules relating to the carrying of remittances to Cuba, see § 515.560(c)(4) of this part. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from engaging in the collection or forwarding of remittances to Cuba unless authorized pursuant to § 515.572. For a list of authorized U.S. remittance service providers other than depository institutions, see the “List of Authorized Providers of Air, Travel and Remittance Forwarding Services to Cuba” available from OFAC’s Web site.

§ 515.571 Certain transactions incident to travel to, from, and within the United States by Cuban nationals

9. Amend § 515.571 by revising paragraph (a)(5)(i) and the note to § 515.571 to read as follows:

(a) * * *
(5) * * *

(i) This paragraph (a)(5) does not authorize receipt of compensation in excess of amounts covering living expenses and the acquisition of goods for personal consumption. See § 515.565(a)(5) of this part for an authorization of payments to certain Cuban scholars of stipends or salaries that exceed this limit.

Note to § 515.571:

For the authorization of certain transactions by Cuban nationals who become U.S. citizens, apply for or receive U.S. permanent resident alien status, or are lawfully present in the United States in a non-visitor status, see § 515.505 of this part.

§ 515.577 Authorized transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to publishing

10. Amend § 515.577 by revising the paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows:

(a) To the extent that such activities are not exempt from this part, and subject to the restrictions set forth in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section, persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are authorized to engage in all transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals, and newspapers in paper or electronic format (collectively, “written publications”). This section does not apply if the parties to the transactions described in this paragraph include the Government of Cuba. For the purposes of this section, the term “Government of Cuba” includes the state and the Government of Cuba, as well as any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Cuba; prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba, as defined in § 515.337 of this part; prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party, as defined in § 515.338 of this part; employees of the Ministry of Justice; and any person acting or purporting to act directly or indirectly on behalf of any of the foregoing with respect to the transactions described in this paragraph.

For the purposes of this section, the term “Government of Cuba” does not include any academic and research institutions and their personnel. Pursuant to this section, the following activities are authorized, provided that persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States ensure that they are not engaging, without separate authorization, in the activities identified in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.

January 25, 2011

Adam J. Szubin,
Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control
BILLING CODE 4810-AL [FR Doc. 2011-1969 Filed 01/27/2011 at 8:45 am
Publication Date: 01/28/2011

www.particularcuba.com – Travel to Cuba

Easing of Cuba travel restrictions opens door to more U.S. visits


USA Today: President Obama recently announced plans to let student, church and cultural groups legally visit Cuba. And while falling short of now-stalled legislation that would have lifted a nearly five decade-old travel ban, it could pave the way for more U.S. tourism to the communist country.

Obama eased restrictions on U.S. travel, visas and remittance of money from Americans to Cubans last Friday, and the orders are expected to take effect within two weeks. The actions still preclude trips by ordinary tourists who now slip in illegally via Canada, Mexico and other Caribbean countries. An estimated 400,000 U.S. citizens (including legal Cuban Americans) traveled to the island last year. That’s five times more than in 2008, the year before the Obama administration lifted travel restrictions for those with family on the island, and a number not seen since before the Cuban revolution, reports NPR.

But the new measures “more or less return things to where they were under the Clinton administration, with the addition of exciting new openings,” says Cuba travel expert Christopher P. Baker, author of the guidebook Moon Cuba.

“Academics and students have been unshackled to travel to Cuba more freely. But the changes also potentially open the door for every U.S. citizen to legally travel to Cuba as a participant in cultural programs, (and) the licensing process should be much more friendly,” says Baker.

“I anticipate a surge in applications by a broad range of travel companies and cultural organizations for licenses to operate cultural tours that involve interactions with Cubans,” he adds. “In the Clinton era, this included everything from bicycling to ornithology groups and… well, you name it. In fact, my first visit to Havana, in 1993, was as a participant in a tour to the Havana International Jazz Festival licensed under the ‘people-to-people provision.'”

At a U.S.-Cuba Travel Summit in Cancun last spring, executives of such companies as Tauck, Isram, and Travel Impressions “all expressed interest in operating cultural tours,” Baker says.

While a White House statement pointed out that it is maintaining the economic embargo against Cuba instituted in 1962, it said the new measures “will increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.”

Among the changes: More U.S. airports will be allowed to offer charter flights to serve delegations that travel to Cuba under the expanded rules.

“For the U.S. travel sector, this will undoubtedly open new routes and new revenues for charters and other businesses that provide services for Americans visiting the Cuban market,” says Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas. “At a time when Cubans are changing their system in fundamental ways, it is a good idea to have greater engagement, more Americans traveling to Cuba, and more opportunities to learn from each other as everyday Cubans reshape their lives and their country.”

But the new policies are being criticized by some Cuban-Americans, including new U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“It is unthinkable that the administration would enable the enrichment of a Cuban regime that routinely violates the basic human rights and dignity of its people,” says Rubio, born in Miami to Cuban-American parents who had fled Fidel Castro’s regime.

www.particularcuba.com

Cuba sees more Russian visitors


Russia has become one of the fastest growing tourism source countries for Cuba with over 23,000 Russians visiting the Caribbean island state in the first half of 2010, up 25 percent year on year, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said Friday.

The increase can be attributed to Cuba’s efforts to explore new tourism markets such as Russia, China, Mexico and Cubans living abroad after visitors from traditional tourist source countries like Spain, Germany and Italy, declined due to the global financial crisis, it said.

The measures included opening new direct flights, among which are twice-a-week direct flights between Moscow and Varadero, a major city in Cuba.

Cuba also held the 30th International Tourism Fair in Havana to strengthen the ties among tour operators between Russia and Cuba.

According to the NSO, 1.4 million visitors came to Cuba in the first half of this year, an increase of 1 percent year on year.

Tourism is Cuba’s second largest industry, contributing about 20 percent to the island’s total foreign currency income each year.

www.cubaluxuryrent.com

Cuba’s tainted image


Thestar.com: “Go Cuba,” a long-running billboard campaign on the streets of Toronto, features seductive images of foreign sunbathers relaxing on the island’s tranquil beaches. But no amount of glossy advertising can undo the negative publicity from Cuba’s shabby treatment of a 19-year-old Canadian tourist whose vehicle was sideswiped by a pickup truck three months ago.

No charges have been laid against Simcoe native Cody LeCompte, but he has been marooned on the island ever since, cooped up in hotel rooms at a cost of more than $30,000 to his Ontario family. While that’s not on a par with captivity in Guantanamo Bay, it’s still inexcusable given Canada’s historically friendly ties with Cuba.

About 1 million Canadians fly to Cuba every year — more visitors than from any other country. Canada is also Cuba’s second-biggest export partner, and it has long rebuffed American pressure to restrict trade and investment ties.

After high-level interventions by Canadian authorities, Cuban police agreed to let LeCompte out on bail. But continued bureaucratic foot-dragging has delayed his departure, with no assurance he can fly home. If that’s how the authorities treat Canadian tourists, no sunny ad campaign will offset the blow to Cuba’s image as a beach paradise.

WestJet adds New Orleans, Grand Cayman and Santa Clara, Cuba


CALGARY, July 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ – WestJet today unveiled its winter schedule for 2010-2011, featuring three new destinations, 10 new routes and expanded service on more than 30 others – and at everyday low fares all year-round.

Beginning in November, WestJet will launch seasonal, non-stop service to New Orleans, Santa Clara (Cuba) and Grand Cayman Island, all from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

WestJet will also launch new seasonal, non-stop service between the following cities:

    -   Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Montreal
        and Montego Bay, Jamaica
    -   Montreal, Calgary and Varadero, Cuba
    -   Toronto and Palm Springs

WestJet will extend its non-stop service from seasonal to year-round between the following cities:

    -   Ottawa and Halifax
    -   Ottawa and Vancouver
    -   Toronto and Bermuda
    -   Toronto and Samana, DR
    -   Toronto and Puerto Vallarta
    -   Montreal and Punta Cana.

WestJet will increase the number of seasonal, non-stop flights this winter from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to exciting destinations such as Honolulu, Maui, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.

“This winter schedule is a measured, balanced and strategic approach to domestic, trans-border and international growth,” said Hugh Dunleavy, Executive Vice-President, Strategy and Planning. “Along with our high-value frequent guest program we launched in March, additional service to and from Ottawa expands upon our growing business travel offering. And, the introduction of new southern destinations from more Canadian gateways offers our guests more choices for their winter vacations.”

“We are also pleased to announce seasonal, non-stop service to three new destinations from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport,” continued Hugh Dunleavy. “Our valued relationship with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority is a key building block to our ongoing, strategic approach to growth from Toronto.”

“WestJet’s continued commitment to growing services for the benefit of passengers using Toronto Pearson has been shown again by the announcement of these new routes,” added Pamela Griffith-Jones, Chief Commercial Officer for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “We will continue to work with WestJet to support their needs and to help offer more choice and more routes for the communities we serve.”

Here are details of WestJet’s new service to New Orleans, Grand Cayman and Santa Clara:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Route       Start Date  Frequency     Days         Arr/Dep Times
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto - New       Nov. 1,       Four     Monday,         Outbound
    Orleans              2010        times    Wednesday, 9:30 a.m./11:30 a.m.
    Introductory                    weekly     Friday,          Return
    fares                                      Sunday    12:15 p.m./3:55 p.m.
    starting at
    $139
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto - Grand     Nov. 4,      Three     Tuesday,        Outbound
    Cayman Island        2010        times    Thursday,  9:40 a.m./1:45 p.m.
    Introductory                    weekly     Sunday           Return
    fares                                                2:35 p.m./6:30 p.m.
    starting at
    $189
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto - Santa     Nov. 5,       Once     Friday          Outbound
    Clara, Cuba          2010       weekly               9:45 a.m./1:25 p.m.
    Introductory                                                Return
    fares                                                2:25 p.m./5:59 p.m.
    starting at
    $149
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Note that fares quoted do not include applicable fees, taxes and
                                 surcharges

WestJet’s winter schedule also includes 10 new routes:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Route       Start Date  Frequency     Days         Arr/Dep Times
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vancouver -         Nov. 2,      Once      Tuesday         Outbound
    Montego Bay          2010      weekly                  7 a.m./4:44 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                5:35 p.m./10:37 p.m.
    starting at
    $299
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Edmonton -          Nov. 5,      Once      Friday          Outbound
    Montego Bay          2010      weekly                10:30 a.m./6:40 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                7:30 p.m./12:42 a.m.
    starting at
    $269
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Calgary -           Nov. 6,      Once     Saturday         Outbound
    Montego Bay          2010      weekly                  7 a.m./3:06 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                  4 p.m./9:09 p.m.
    starting at
    $269
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Calgary -           Nov. 6,      Once     Saturday         Outbound
    Varadero             2010      weekly                  7 a.m./2:25 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                8:15 p.m./12:36 a.m.
    starting at
    $249
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Saskatoon -         Oct. 31,     Once      Sunday          Outbound
    Montego Bay           2010     weekly                11:30 p.m./6:15 a.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                7:05 a.m./12:43 p.m.
    starting at
    $249
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Route       Start Date  Frequency     Days         Arr/Dep Times
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Regina - Montego    Nov. 3,      Once     Wednesday        Outbound
    Bay                  2010      weekly               11:50 p.m./6:15 a.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                7:05 a.m./12:22 p.m.
    starting at
    $229
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Winnipeg -          Nov. 3,     Twice     Wednesday      Please visit
    Montego Bay          2010      weekly      Saturday    westjet.com for
    Everyday low                                             flight times
    fares
    starting at
    $219
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto - Palm    February 2,   Twice     Wednesday,       Outbound
    Springs              2011      weekly      Saturday    9:45 a.m./12 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                12:45 p.m./8:08 p.m.
    starting at
    $239
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Montreal -          Nov. 5,      Once      Friday          Outbound
    Montego Bay          2010      weekly                  8 a.m./12:38 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                 1:30 p.m./5:48 p.m.
    starting at
    $239
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Montreal -          Nov. 6,      Once    Saturday          Outbound
    Varadero             2010      weekly                 3:30 p.m./7:15 p.m.
    Everyday low                                                Return
    fares                                                 3:25 p.m./7:10 p.m.
    starting at
    $229
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Note that fares quoted do not include applicable fees, taxes and
                                 surcharges.
     Flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica, are subject to government approval.

Since its launch in 2006, WestJet Vacations has become a trusted and preferred travel provider for Canadian vacationers. WestJet Vacations offers seven-night vacation packages starting as low as $819 for Santa Clara, Cuba, three-night packages starting as low as $899 for Grand Cayman Island and three-night vacation packages starting as low as $479 for New Orleans. For more information, visit westjetvacations.com, call our vacation sales centre at 1-800-737-7001             1-800-737-7001      or contact your favourite travel agent.

“We are pleased to be able to offer our WestJet Vacations guests the opportunity to choose from three more great destinations,” said Chris Avery, Vice-President, WestJet Vacations. “In fact, this winter we’re offering more packages to more destinations from more Canadian cities than we’ve ever offered before. We are truly offering Canadians great vacation packages where they want to go, when they want to go.”

WestJet Vacations offers flexible-length vacation packages to all of WestJet’s southern destinations. And for a limited time only, guests who book a vacation package with WestJet Vacations before September 30, 2010, for travel to U.S. or international destinations between November 1, 2010, and May 15, 2011, will receive a maximum $400 WestJet travel credit per room booked. For more information, visit westjetvacations.com. Vacation packages are available for sale immediately through travel agents, the WestJet Vacations Sales Super Centre at 1-877-737-7001    1-877-737-7001   or online at westjetvacations.com.

About WestJet

WestJet is Canada’s preferred airline, offering scheduled service throughout its 71-city North American and Caribbean network. Inducted into Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures Hall of Fame and named one of Canada’s best employers, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. WestJet offers increased legroom, leather seats and live seatback television provided by Bell TV on its modern fleet of 89 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. With future confirmed deliveries for an additional 46 aircraft through 2016, WestJet strives to be one of the five most successful international airlines in the world.

Don’t Book Your Travel to Cuba Just Yet


Theroot.com:

Farmers in Minnesota might have reason to celebrate recent legislation regarding the travel ban to the Caribbean island. But for those of us looking forward to partying in Havana — not so much.

The Committee on Agriculture in the U.S. House passed legislation on Wednesday that suggests a possible lifting of the travel ban to Cuba, but Americans shouldn’t make plans just yet.

For starters, while H.R. 4645, aka the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, is a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by 62 members of Congress and passed by the committee with a 25-20 vote, it still has to go through two more committee hurdles: Foreign Affairs and Financial Services. The real fight — and thus the real bill, once it’s been adjusted — won’t be revealed until later this summer, when, and if, it makes it through the other committees and is then taken up by the full House. Attempts were made in committee, in fact, to drop the travel section — and no one should be surprised if it doesn’t survive in future versions.

If the legislation were to pass as is, it would create new jobs in U.S. agriculture and the airline industry (by opening up new routes) and restore Americans’ right to travel to Cuba.

But while the bill’s title may reference travel first and suggests its paramount importance, where there’s actual bipartisan support is in the second part: agriculture. The bill’s sponsors, in fact, are Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and GOP Rep. Jerry Moran of Kansas, whose states would benefit from expanded agricultural sales to the island. Of the 25 votes to get the bill out of the Agriculture Committee, four were Republican.

The U.S. has a half-century-long economic embargo on Cuba, but in 2000 — 10 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and during Cuba’s “Special Period,” the euphemism used on the island to refer to its post-Soviet economic catastrophe — President Bill Clinton exempted “humanitarian aid,” meaning food and medicine, from penalties.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 has generated an average of $320 million in annual sales to the island since its enactment; Cuba now ranks in the top 30 out of 228 countries in total purchases of U.S. farm products and is the fifth-largest market in Latin America for U.S. agricultural exports.

But while the exemptions allowed U.S. food sales, they did so only under certain conditions: Cuba cannot pay with credit; it can use only cash. In addition, the nation is not currently allowed to pay U.S. producers directly; it must go through banks in third countries. This became necessary because Cuban property in the United States is subject to confiscation by American authorities on behalf of Cuban exiles in the U.S. with legal claims against the Cuban government.

According to Cuba’s Food and Agriculture Situation (pdf), a 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Global Analysis, Cuba initially refused to pay the cash in advance as required by the 2000 law. As a result, the advanced-payment requirement has been dealt with through an agreement for a confirmed, irrevocable letter of credit with third-country banks before American export goods leave U.S. ports for Cuba.

H.R. 4645 will eliminate all this and permit direct payment by Cuba to U.S. banks for American agricultural products, saving time and expense. It will also ease the transferring of product title.

Most business, farm and legal groups in the United States, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, support H.R. 4645, including the lifting of the travel ban, and expanded ties with Cuba. A March 2010 Texas A&M study suggests the embargo could, if lifted, generate $365 million in direct sales and 6,000 new jobs in the United States.

Detractors, including many in the Cuban-American community and in conservative circles, argue that there should be more to American foreign policy than profit. Specifically, they see expanded trade and reduced costs as rewards for the Cuban government’s continuous breach of human rights.

No less than Amnesty International released a report on Wednesday saying, “Cuba’s repressive legal system has created a climate of fear among journalists, dissidents and activists, putting them at risk of arbitrary arrest and harassment by the authorities.” The report cited recent arrests, harassment by vigilante mobs and Internet restrictions.

In Cuba, dissidents are split on the embargo: Most well-known names, such as Yoani Sanchez and Elizardo Sanchez (not related), support lifting it to ease the hardships on ordinary Cubans, even if the Cuban government gains in the process. They suggest that the embargo has given cover to the government — and lifting the embargo would eliminate the government’s excuses for its many failures. Others, such as Ariel Sigler, who was recently released after serving seven years of a 25-year sentence, strongly oppose lifting the embargo, arguing that it’s important not to give the government a quarter.

www.cubaluxuryrent.com – Travel to Cuba