enemy of "freedom to travel"
PLEASE NOTE: We try to keep up to date information on this site, but travel regulations may change without our knowledge....so check with Uncle Sam. Readers can contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control directly for the most current regulations.
In the Beginning
Let us start by saying that the travel restrictions to Cuba are based on a lie told by the Reagan / Bush administration. We are about to go to war with Iraq because our President says they are lying. Please explain the difference our government lying to the American people or Iraq lying to the American people and the United Nations?
In fact, international travel in times of peace, is a Constitutional Right, ruled the Supreme Court in about 1963. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights says that any person can leave their country and return without fear of prosecution or persecution (Section 13-2). The Helsinki Agreements define travel across international boundaries as a basic human right. The US government is in violation of all of these rulings and definitions. Should any American pay one iota of attention to laws of lies being promoted by our own government? Hell no! We would go to war before we would allow another country to revoke these same cherished liberties. Why not a war against Washington D.C.?
Who would believe that you can travel without spending money....WHAT A FRAUD!
Restrictions on travel to Cuba are authorized by the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, which grants the power to prohibit financial transactions in time of war. Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government imposed an economic embargo on Cuba in 1961. In July 1963, the U.S. Treasury Department released the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which codify the essential elements of the economic embargo against Cuba. Such elements include a freeze of all Cuban-owned assets in the U.S., a prohibition on all non-licensed financial and commercial transactions between Cuba and the United States and between Cuban and U.S. nationals. The financial prohibition includes the spending of money by U.S. citizens for travel to Cuba, which essentially creates a travel ban on the island for all non-licensed U.S. citizens.
According to Dr. Wayne S. Smith, the man many believe to be the top expert on Cuba in this country, and the Chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana at the time these travel restrictions were announced, called the reasons for the restrictions an "outright lie". The reason given was "that Cuba had increased its efforts to destabilize the governments of Latin America." Smith claims that he had just received State Department Cable #11853 saying that the U.S. government had no such evidence. David Mac Michaels, a CIA analyst on Cuba and Central American agrees with Smith saying that he looked at all the "hard evidence" dealing with the reasons for the travel restrictions and called them a "fraud".
Rather than just take Smith and Mac Michaels word for it and in fairness to Reagan/Bush, I filed hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to every top official in the Reagan/Bush administration asking for the "hard evidence" to support the reasons for having banned travel to Cuba, "that Cuba had increased its efforts to destabilize the governments of Latin America". Although Government is required to answer within 10 working days, not one piece of hard evidence has ever been supplied. You be the judge!
My friends, the truth is that our government has revoked one of our most cherished of liberties, the right to international travel during times of peace, and they did it with a Government lie. Every other nation claiming to be free, including the Russians, enjoy "unrestricted travel rights". We the American people must fight with every last drop of our blood until we are as free as the citizens of every other nation claiming to be democratic!
The embargo regulations have been eased and tightened several times over its forty year history. In 1977, the Carter Administration removed all restrictions on travel to Cuba and even amended the Passport Act to allow travel to Cuba to become legal. However, the Reagan Administration reinstated an even stricter travel ban in 1982, restricting the spending of money in Cuba, making it difficult for most U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally, by US government standards. We say different and all freedom loving Americans should challenge these restrictions until the day our government comes to the conclusion that lying to us and restricting our most cherished of liberties.....is unacceptable!
Two other legislative actions are also worth noting. In October 1992, President George Bush signed the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA). The CDA was a major effort to further isolate the region during a critical economic downturn after the fall of the Soviet Union (a period referred to in Cuba as the "special period"). The Act prohibited foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba. The CDA is important in relation to the travel ban because it grants the Treasury Department for the first time the authority to level civil fines up to $50,000 on individuals who violate the embargo.
The second event occurred in March 1996, when the Cuba Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (also called the "Helms-Burton Act" after the bill's sponsors) become law. The law was passed shortly after Cuba shot down two small planes flown by the U.S.-based Cuban exile group, Brothers to the Rescue. The Helms-Burton Act was designed to further impede economic recovery under Fidel Castro's government by increasing the pressure on foreign investors on the island. During the special period, Cuba opened the island to foreign investment, especially in the tourist industry. One of the most controversial measures in the Helms-Burton Act is Title III, which allows foreign companies to be taken to US courts if they are found to be doing business on nationalized property formerly held by US citizens. The Act requires the U.S. President to either waive or enforce this provision every six months. To this day, both Presidents Clinton and Bush have exercised the waiver and the provision has not been put into effect. The next scheduled waiver will be in January 2002.
The Helms-Burton Act also affects travel restrictions by codifying the existing Cuban Asset Control Regulations. Travel restrictions are normally imposed by Executive authority. The Act changed this by requiring that any changes to the regulations would now require an act of Congress.
The 1998 AAAS Report on free travel
In 1998, AAAS published a report entitled "The Right to Travel: The Effect of Travel Restrictions on Scientific Collaboration Between American and Cuban Scientists." The report provides a useful overview of U.S. policy on travel to Cuba, including U.S. restrictions on U.S. scientists and on Cuban scientists, and Cuban travel policy, including Cuban restrictions on Cuban scientists. The report details restriction on travel to Cuba resulting from the Helms-Burton Act and their effect on the conduct of science between the two nations. The regulations at that time required that all scientists and academics apply for a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Since the publication of the report, U.S. policy has changed. On 5 January 1999, President Clinton announced that the U.S. was taking additional steps to expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to Cuba. Among the initiatives the President announced were an expansion of people-to-people contact through two-way exchanges among academics and scientists and streamlining the approval process for their visits. As a result, most scientists and researchers now fall under the general license category, which means they are legally authorized to engage in travel-related transactions and do not need to apply for an OFAC license.
In May 1999, the Treasury Department issued updated regulations in accordance
with President Clinton's announcement that made traveling to Cuba easier for
those previously eligible for licenses, such as scientists and researchers, and
opened up a few new categories for legal travel. On 26 July 2001, the Treasury
Department issued the newest regulations. These most recent regulations leave
many of the provisions allowing freedom of travel for scientists and researchers
largely untouched. The provisions of the regulations that are most relevant to
scientists and researchers are explained below.
Overview of Travel Regulations
The following is a summary of the relevant sections of the Office of Foreign Assets Control's Cuban rules and regulations.
What are "Travel-Related Transactions"?
Travel-related transactions include transportation to and from Cuba and living expenses in Cuba, which includes, but is not limited to, lodging, transportation and meals. Travel-related transactions also include purchases made in Cuba and brought back into the U.S. as accompanied baggage (not to exceed $100 per person and only once every six consecutive months).
What role does OFAC have in dealing with the Cuban Sanctions?
The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is
responsible for administering the sanctions imposed by the U.S. government
against the government of Cuba (the Cuban Assets Control Regulations). It is
important to note that U.S. citizens are technically able to travel to Cuba, but
the Regulations prohibit unlicensed U.S. citizens from spending money (in any
currency) on the island. OFAC issues licenses that permit certain U.S. citizens
and residents to legally spend money in Cuba, essentially allowing them to
travel to Cuba.
Back to top
The following categories of travel are authorized under an OFAC General License to engage in travel-related transactions. General Licenses do not need to be applied for prior to a trip. If you fall under the General License category, you may affirm that you qualify for travel to Cuba, and no specific piece of paper needs to be requested.
Professional Research and Professional Meetings
Under a General License, full-time professionals who travel to Cuba to conduct professional research are authorized to engage in travel-related transactions. The same applies to full-time professionals traveling to Cuba to attend professional meetings or conferences (provided that the meeting is not intended for the promotion of tourism in Cuba or fostering the production of biotechnological products). Scientists and academicians who want to go to Cuba to conduct research or to attend meetings or conferences are able to legally travel to Cuba under the General License. For example, a scientist who wishes to attend a conference about energy or agricultural practices in Cuba -even if the topic is not particular to Cuba but the conference happens to take place in that country- is legally authorized to travel to Cuba and to engage in travel-related transactions.
If you are uncertain about whether or not you fall under the General License category, you may contact the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York (Phone: 212-614-6464; Fax: 212-614-6499; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), for free legal advice on travel regulations. If you do not fall under the General License category, you may still be eligible for travel to Cuba under a Specific License (see Specific License section).
Officials of the U.S. Government, Foreign Governments and Certain Intergovernmental Organizations
Officials of the U.S. government, any foreign government, or any intergovernmental organization of which the U.S. is a member and who are traveling on the official business of their government or organization are authorized to engage in travel-related and other transactions directly incident to activities in their official capacities.
Persons regularly employed as journalists are authorized to engage in
travel-related and other transactions directly incident to journalistic
activities in Cuba under a General License. Free-lance journalists still need a
Specific License, but these licenses may authorize transactions for multiple
trips over an extended period of time.
Although most scientists and academics traveling to Cuba to conduct research or attend meetings will be authorized under a General License, OFAC also issues Specific Licenses for certain categories of travel. The main difference between General and Specific Licenses is that with a Specific License an individual or an organization must contact OFAC before traveling to Cuba and go through an approval process. OFAC will consider each application on a case-by-case basis. The disadvantage with Specific Licenses involves the standard of review used by OFAC in evaluating the license request. What might seem like a perfectly valid request may be rejected by OFAC. The one clear advantage of a Specific License is for institutions because the license is valid for one or two years and allows multiple trips by its employees.
All institutions interested in traveling to Cuba should be encouraged to apply for a Specific License to ensure its employees the right to travel to Cuba and reaffirm the institution's commitment to fostering international exchange and dialogue.
The following categories of travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis for authorization under an OFAC Specific License to engage in travel transactions in Cuba.
A long-term Specific License may be issued to an accredited U.S. academic institution authorizing the institution, its students and employees, to engage in travel-related transactions. The Specific License may be renewed after a period of two years.
Activities that may be licensed include:
Professors and students should be encouraged to request that his or her school apply for such a license from the Treasury Department.
Specific Licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis to authorize travel-related and other transactions directly incident to educational exchanges that are not pursuant to a degree program if under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes such programs to promote people-to-people contact.
Organizations that promote people-to-people exchange should be encouraged to apply for such a license from the Treasury Department.
Private foundations, research, and educational institutes
Travel-related and other transactions by private foundations, research, or educational institutes, with an established interest in international relations for activities to collect information for noncommercial purposes are authorized. Specific Licenses for multiple trips to Cuba for these purposes may also be issued. Again, most researchers are allowed to travel under the General License and thus do not need to apply for a Specific License. However, a few categories of research are not covered under the general license. The field of biotechnology is an example. While some activities related to biotechnology research, such as basic research, are allowed, any research and activities in Cuba that could be used by the Cuban government to foster the production of biotechnological products are not. Scientists and researchers interested in traveling to Cuba to conduct work on biotechnology should contact OFAC or the State Department to describe your work in detail and determine whether you must apply for a Specific License.
Foundations, research and educational institutes should be encouraged to
apply for such a license from the Treasury Department.
In addition to General and Specific Licenses, there is a third category of legal travel to Cuba called Fully-hosted Travel. This is a provision that is very complicated and subject to many conditions. If you have been invited as the guest of a Cuban institution or someone in a third country (who is not subject to U.S. jurisdiction), and that individual pays all of your Cuba-related expenses, you are a "fully-hosted" traveler. Fully-hosted travelers do not need to contact OFAC or apply for a license prior to travel. However, the Regulations do not allow fully-hosted travelers to fly on Cubana Airlines, Cuba's national airlines. Fully-hosted travelers are also restricted from traveling on any direct flight between the United States and Cuba. A fully-hosted traveler may not bring back to the United States any Cuban origin goods, except for information materials such as books or CDs. A fully-hosted traveler may be asked by OFAC to provide detailed documentation that proves that the traveler did not pay for any aspect of the trip, including food, lodging, or ground transportation. OFAC may also request documentation from the sponsor or host of the trip that confirms that the travel was fully hosted.
Where can I find the Regulations?
Although the Regulations can be very difficult to understand as they are filled with technical legal terms, it is important to understand them because if caught engaging in unlicensed travel, you could face heavy fines and possible criminal penalties. There are many provisions of the Regulations that allow scientists and academics to legally engage in travel to Cuba. The goal of this site is to help the scientific community understand the Regulations so that they can legally exercise their right to travel to Cuba.
To access the Regulations directly:
The Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515 (Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 515), can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/index.html
OFAC publishes two factsheets: "What You Need To Know About The U.S. Embargo"
and "Travel Restrictions" These can be located at
Per diem rate
The State Department establishes a travel per diem allowance for travel-related expenses (hotel accommodations, meals, local transportation) for U.S. citizens and residents traveling under a general or Specific License from the Treasury Department. To check the current per diem rate click on http://www.state.gov/www/perdiems/index.html
Previously, direct passenger flights were only available to Havana from Miami. On 5 January 1999, President Clinton announced his decision to expand direct passenger charter flights to Cuba. For licensed travel, departures from Los Angeles and New York have been authorized, as have direct flights to Cuban cities outside of Havana. A authorized travel service provider can provide you with the current schedule of charter flights. If you are licensed to travel to Cuba, it is also legal to fly to Cuba via a third country.
Many people find the direct flights to be more of a hassle than flying through a third country. Only a couple of flights are offered each day. Only a few charter companies conduct direct flights and each company has particular days that they offer service. You must use the same charter company going to and returning from Cuba. If you plan to travel on the same day of the week on both flights, for example you plan to travel to Cuba on a Saturday and return to the U.S. the following Saturday, it will be easy to use the same company. However, if you plan your departure day and return day on different days of the week, for example you plan to travel to Cuba on Monday and return to the U.S. on Thursday, you might find that the charter flight that you must use on your return trip does not offer service on this day.
The charter flights also require you to be at the airport to check in for your flight four to five hours before the scheduled departure. Many of the flights are scheduled for 8 a.m., which means you must arrive at the airport at 3 a.m. to check in for your flight.
For more information on US policy on travel to and from Cuba, you can visit
the Cuba web site at the
State and the Department of Treasury's
of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
PLEASE NOTE: Information contained on this website is current as of July 2002. Travel regulations could be changed, so we urge our readers to contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control directly for the most current regulations. Suffice to say that these people, in my opinion, should be known as the American Gestapo.
In reality, Reagan Bush accepted one million dollars from the right-wing Cuban Americans to tell the lies that cost us our "freedom to travel." Much of this began when the elder Bush was Director of the CIA and helped to create many of the right-wing Cuban American terrorist groups. Bush Quayle also accepted a million dollars to continue this law of lies. Clinton Gore accepted more than a half million to keep the lie alive but allowed a loosening of the regulations with their people to people contacts. In fact, many believe that the Helms Burton Act came about primarily by Republicans trying to prevent Clinton Gore from opening the doors to Cuba. Bush Cheney has continued the lie and accepted $2 million from the right wing of the Cuban Americans on May 20, giving a promise to not open the doors to "free travel" to Cuba.
As it has been for years, the Republican leadership, mainly Trent Lott, Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay are mostly responsible for preventing the "freedom to travel" from coming to a vote in the US Senate. Even if passed, President Bush, has already sold out to the Cuban American community and says he will "veto" any such legislation. He got the most bribe money ever....and pocketed $2 million in Miami on May 20, 2002.
The only way to get your freedom to travel back is protesting or voting this currently crop of politicians out of office. Which is most important to you? Sadly, the mid term elections of 2002, once more proved that the questions of our freedom do not matter to them. Far less than 40% even cared enough to go to the polls. We say the Cubans are not free, but 99.25% of them went to the polls to vote to keep "socialism". WOW!