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Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 12 April 2013

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While it is possible to visit Cuba, it still isn’t easy. You can’t just log on to an airline’s website and schedule a flight to Havana. You can fly into Cuba from another country, such as Canada or Mexico, but U.S. citizens are barred from spending money in Cuba, meaning that doing so could get you into serious trouble when you have to come home.

 



So how can you legally get to Cuba? The answer is those “people-to-people” licenses mentioned earlier. According to Tom Popper of travel company Insight Cuba, “All a U.S. citizen has to do is sign up for an authorized program and they can go to Cuba. It’s as simple as that.”

Well, not that simple, since the U.S. Treasury Department has been very slow at issuing those licenses. If you do hook up with a travel agency licensed for Cuban visits, your trip must have “educational value, meaning it will have to center on the country’s people and culture rather than lying on the beach smoking cigars and tossing down rum.

The guidelines issued by the Treasury Department for Cuban visits specify that tours must “have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.”

Even if you do manage to fit some quality cigar smoking and mojito-drinking time into your busy schedule of soaking up culture, you aren’t allowed to bring either back with you to the states.

So yes, it’s entirely possible that Jay-Z and Beyonce scheduled their trip to Cuba in a manner that was entirely above-board and did not involve getting a hall pass from their old pal President Obama. The couple was photographed visiting a children’s theater company, an arts institute and a dance group, as well as mingling with the people.

 

 


According to a statement from the Treasury Department, the trip in which the Carters took part was an “educational exchange trip…It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to-people contact in Cuba.” That’s not likely to silence their critics, however.

One of them is Mauricio Claver-Carone of Washington D.C.-based Cuba Democracy Advocates. Claver-Carone slammed the couple for failing to educate themselves about the country’s ongoing record of human rights violations. He told TMZ, “There are women getting beaten on a daily basis, women who are being jailed for no reason ... people are fighting for their freedom…It’s extremely insensitive.”

Whatever explanation the celebrity couple offers for their Cuban trip isn’t likely to appease those most opposed to lifting the 51-year-old trade embargo and sanctions against travel. Late last month, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen issued a strongly-worded statement against improving relations with Cuba.

“Once again, we see the same group of lawmakers seeking to eliminate U.S. restrictions on the Castro regime by offering legislation that is not only misguided, but reckless and dangerous. I’ll continue to oppose these bills because they do nothing to further the freedom and human rights of the Cuban people, but rather serve to solidify the murderous regime’s stranglehold over the island and attempt to provide an economic lifeline to the Castro brothers.”

Next week, we’ll get back to the Cuban embargo under the Obama administration and the current friends and foes of finally bringing it to an end.






Comments 

 
0 # RE: How You Can Visit Cuba – Just Like Jay-Z and BeyonceWilliam Carrington 2013-04-22 19:58
Although we can't afford one, National Geographic constantly send us its Expeditions catalog which offers trips to many places including Cuba, I suppose they would be under the 'educational' label, but we ain't scholars so for us the trip would amount to tourism. So I wish people would get off JayZ, Beyonce, & the Obama admin. I'm not special and I could go to Cuba for about 11,000$ for 7 days. And you could too.

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