[Marxism] Feds lay down the law on Cuba to travel agents

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 29 14:36:33 MDT 2006

As we look ahead toward the upcoming meetings of the United
Nations and specifically the General Assembly and the membership
of the newly-created Human Rights Council, Cuba is definitely in
the running for a seat on the newly-created body. Washington has
announced it won't run for a seat, perhaps uncertain if it could
actually secure election. Immigrants throughout the US have been
mobilizing to secure fair government policies so that they would
be able to live and work in the country without constrant fear 
that they would be deported. In this context, and furthermore as
we get ready for the anniversary of the celebrations in the US
of compromised independence for Cuba - the Platt Amendment to 
Cuba's 1902 constitution was approved on May 20, 1902, the U.S.
government is cracking down even harder against U.S. citizens
and residents who continue to travel to Cuba, as we see in the
latest reports from the MIAMI HERALD today. This is the evident
response of the federal government to the news conference held
Thursday and the full-page ad in the MIAMI HERALD by a large
group of Cuban-American scholars favoring normalized relations
with Cuba. This is another round in Washington's anti-Cuba war.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews

Posted on Sat, Apr. 29, 2006	


Feds lay down the law on Cuba to travel agents

The U.S. Treasury Department, in the midst of a crackdown against
illegal travel to Cuba, met with travel agencies to clarify the

BY OSCAR CORRAL ocorral at MiamiHerald.com

In the midst of a widespread federal crackdown on illegal travel to
Cuba, the U.S. Treasury Department met Friday in Miami with agencies
that specialize in travel to Cuba to go over the rules they must
follow to keep their licenses.

Since January, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has been
auditing travel agencies and religious organizations that specialize
in travel to Cuba. In the past few months, four of those agencies
have had Cuba travel licenses suspended. Six religious organizations
have also had their licenses suspended. The Foreign Assets Control
office would not provide the names of the religious organizations.

At least one popular Cuba travel agency, ABC Charters, has seen
travel to Cuba cut in half in the last few weeks, said ABC Vice
President Maria Aral.

Aral said Friday's meeting at Department of Homeland Security offices
near Miami International Airport was to update Cuba travel agencies
on some of the travel restrictions that went into effect in 2004.

''They want to make sure that the travel we provide is legal,'' Aral
said. ``It's a tough environment now. They just came to enforce the
policies that politicians put together. As much as I don't like
certain things, I have to defend them because they are just doing
their jobs.''

In the last four months, 26 of about 200 travel agencies have not
renewed their Foreign Assets Control licenses, a substantial drop.
But agency spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said it wasn't because the
travel companies had done anything wrong.

''The majority of the changes were due to service providers deciding
that they no longer wanted to be in the business and notified OFAC
that they were voluntarily giving up their authorizations,''
Millerwise said in an e-mail responding to questions. ``Another
handful moved without leaving any means to contact them. And a couple
of service providers terminated their authorizations because the
owner died or sold all of their interest.''

The Foreign Assets Control office has suspended the licenses of PWG
Trading, Baby Envios Travel Inc., Fortuna Travel Services and Cubatur


Pedro Gonzalez-Munne, owner of Cuba Promotions, which promotes travel
to Cuba, said the Treasury agency has several agents investigating
Cuba travel in Miami. Their focus is not only illegal travel but
illegal shipments of money to the island, said Gonzalez-Munne, who
did not attend Friday's meeting.

''The most important thing for them [the federal agents] now are the
remittances,'' Gonzalez-Munne said.

In the summer of 2004, the Bush administration tightened travel and
remittance restrictions to Cuba. Friday's meeting was ''an effort by
OFAC to reach out to the community to help ensure they understand and
are aware of their obligations as licensed service providers,''
Millerwise said.


In the meeting, about five agents went over some of the restrictions
that took effect in 2004, Aral said. For example, Aral said, fully
hosted travel, in which a person was allowed to travel to Cuba
through a third country as long as he didn't spend any money there,
is no longer allowed. Also, educational programs in which students
study in Cuba now have to be at least 10 weeks long.

The most controversial change in policy in 2004 restricted family
visits to once every three years for Cubans and Cuban Americans, and
does not include aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins on the
list that qualifies as family.


The tightened travel restrictions have been hailed by hard-line Cuban
exile leaders for denying the communist government of Fidel Castro
badly needed hard currency, but others have criticized the
restrictions as antifamily.

Millerwise said Friday's meeting, conducted in English and Spanish,
was intended to help Cuba travel agencies understand the rules.

''OFAC thought it would be beneficial to meet with the [agencies] to
go through key points . . . especially any new material or changes,''
Millerwise said.

Earlier this week, a group of Cuban Americans united to denounce U.S.
travel restrictions to Cuba.

The group, named Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and
Artists for Change in U.S.Cuba Policy, or ENCASA, declared its
commitment to fight the U.S. embargo of Cuba and the travel

ENCASA's bold attack on U.S. policy comes just weeks before the Bush
administration's Cuba commission will recommend ways to President
Bush to help speed up a democratic transition on the island. The last
time the Cuba commission issued a report, in 2004, the president
heeded its advice and ordered sanctions to be tightened.


Posted on Sat, Apr. 29, 2006	




. Cuban Americans and Cuban exiles can visit immediate family once
every three years.

. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins do not qualify as

. Educational programs in Cuba for American students must run at
least 10 weeks.

. Banned: Travel hosted by Cuba that allowed Americans to travel by
way of a third country so long as they did not spend money on the


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