1st time Cuba: independently or tour?

Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:20 AM
  #1  
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1st time Cuba: independently or tour?

I know that if we go independently we will need to set up some educational activities on our own, and that's fine as we are not beach-goers anyway! But what I don't have a feel for is how MUCH of our time would need to be sort of structured. If we spend a few hours on a given day on our own just walking around and looking at buildings or whatever, does that "count"? I know we'd use a private guide for at least a couple of days, but I just don't have a good sense of what is allowed on our own. Thanks for your help.
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Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:30 AM
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Sounds like your purported OFAC reason for travel is intended to be educational/people to people? What "counts" is stated to be a full time schedule of qualifying activities. For "full time", think full time job. Eating at a rstaurant, for example, does not count, nor does walking around on your own. You are supposed to keep "proof" (detailed itinerary, receipts, etc) for 5 years. However, for quite some time OFAC has not checked, so currently, it's pretty much a sham anyway. The whims of our newly elected, however, could change everything with the stroke of a pen.
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Old Nov 13th, 2016, 01:44 PM
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Thank you, SambaChula. In the midst of all the OTHER things our newly elected said during his campaign, I hadn't been aware of his views on Cuba. Now I see that he's been unclear - what a surprise!! We had planned to go to Oaxaca Mexico for a Jan. vacation, and decided not to as Mexicans may not be thrilled with American visitors. Now I think we'll forget Cuba, too, and just go to Tucson Arizona.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 12:20 PM
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Is anyplace going to be viable soon?
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 12:10 AM
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sylvester - since you are going in January, are you going before the 20th? It should be ok before then, probably for a few weeks after.

I had planned a trip with a person to person reason. Stays in Casa Particulares count as interactions, eating or drinking with Cubans count. Doing art tours or guided nature stuff with locals too, talking to business owners. I don't think it will be too difficult to have "8 hours" of interactions if you write everything down, take pictures and don't spend the whole time on the beach. I'm using "legal" tours to help plan interactions, mini tours and interesting places to visit.

My husband has convinced me that we should go, though it's the end of January. Flights are cheap and he doesn't think we will have a better opportunity once "Voldemort" decides to mess it up. Still not sure yet, but I'm currently reading a couple of guide books to help decide.
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 09:28 AM
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christabir,

I realise that we were lucky in that as Brits the restrictions don't apply to us, but just about everything you can do in Cuba [including being on the beach] will probably have a "person to person" element.

Get up in the morning and chat to the Casa owner, visit a museum where there will be a guide, go to a cafe where there will be musicians - the whole place is alive with opportunities to interact with Cubans. And yes, even the beach, where someone will ask you if you want a drink, and then go and get it for you, for a very reasonable fee!

I say, go for it!
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 10:32 AM
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Actually most of what you describe has been found not to comply.
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 10:49 AM
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Post is copied from this thread, and the specific response from a poster who has traveled regularly to Cuba over many years:
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntr...merican?page=2
_______________________________

From the regulations at:
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx...5.1.59&idno=31


(2) Each traveler has a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba;

and


Example 4 to §515.565(b): An individual plans to travel to Cuba to rent a bicycle to explore the streets of Havana, engage in brief exchanges with shopkeepers while making purchases, and have casual conversations with waiters at restaurants and hotel staff.
None of these activities are educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba, and the traveler's trip does not qualify for the general license.

He comments: I don't see how visiting museums fits that. And visiting restaurants is covered in that example.
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 12:35 PM
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well, the OP will just have to make up his/her mind about whether the US gov is going to be interested in what they did on their holidays.
annhig is online now  
Old Nov 16th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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Exactly.
But a non-US resident is in no position to comment since they are at no risk of the US government ever showing up on their doorstep for any reason to do with a trip to Cuba.
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