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wherehk06 Jan 12th, 2006 09:08 AM

legal trips to cuba to learn salsa or Spanish?
most of the posts on this topic are rather dated (and don't reflect the new regulations) so wanted to bump this post. anyone have suggestions, agencies to recommend, etc? any and all help ahead of our possible trip in march (coming from NY) would be fantastic...thanks in advance

mah1980 Jan 12th, 2006 09:31 AM

I don't know what's going on with all of these questions about american travel to cuba, but this topic has been discussed ad nauseum on this board.

Just last week it was brought up again by another poster who had previously asked questions about Cuba which were thoroughly answered.

I highly doubt any change in regulation (which I'm not aware of; are you referring to the difference in the current administration's Cuba policy which is different than Clinton's?) will allow an American citizen to travel to Cuba legally in order to learn salsa dancing or speak Spanish.

I would think that salsa dancing classes and spanish classes aren't so novel in the NY area that one would be forced to travel to Cuba for those experiences.

wherehk06 Jan 12th, 2006 09:52 AM

hmm, i would have thought it was fairly obvious that my query about any lessons or cultural instruction were about a means to an end: visiting cuba. the reason this topic is coming up so much is because just a year ago traveling to cuba under cultural programs, such as those hosted by Insight Cuba, have been discontinued. in any case, i posted to try to clarify if anyone had recent experiences traveling under the aegis of cultural exchanges. in any case, i don't usually flame back responses but if you don't have anything useful to add, mah1980, why respond at all, esp with such an unpleasant tone?

Canuck_at_Canada_eh Jan 12th, 2006 10:20 AM

Well wherehk06, under the aegis of the current American government, prodded by the fanatical Cuban-American political influence in south-Florida, your chances of a legal trip are somewhere between slim and none.

The OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) has had a massive increase in budget and has 20X the number of agents chasing Cuban assets, or people travelling to Cuba, than they have chasing Al-Queda terrorists. Sad, but true. But then again, Cuban-Americans vote, and Al-Queda doesn't.

Even direct family visits have not been curtailed to only once every three years, with NO COMPASIONATE exceptions.

Many Americans still travel to Cuba, but now choose to do so through a third country gateway. I won't counsel you either way on the decision to do so, but the simple fact is learning Spanish or Salsa no longer qualifies as a necessary OFAC exemtion. At least not until there is a regime change.... in Washington.


mah1980 Jan 12th, 2006 10:43 AM

I do have something useful to add. I'm just disagreeing with a statement in your OP ("most of the posts on this topic are rather dated") because there have been many recent threads answering your questions.

Regardless of that, do you think that you'll garner much assistance in finding ways to break the law? I don't think the U.S. gov't is that inept that they wouldn't see through spanish lessons and salsa dancing as a true cultural exchange.

It is illegal to travel to Cuba as an American citizen. From what I understand and from my reading, I've learned that the Bush administration has strictly enforced this law, and assessed severe fines. Any superficial research will answer that question pretty easily.

Canuck_at_Canada_eh Jan 12th, 2006 05:50 PM

Look, I'm a Canadian and can travel to Cuba whenever I wish. So don't take what I say as gospel. But if you are seriously interested in Cuba travel, then as a US resident you owe it to yourself to make an informed decision, whether that be to obey the OFAC travel ban or to skirt it.

But how do you make an informed decision.

One good resource for Americans to get info from is the US based National Lawyers Guild and their Cuba Subcommitte.
Here's the link.

and here's the NLG main link.

It also advises of what your LEGAL rights are if you do travel to Cuba and receive an OFAC RFI (Request for Information) letter post trip.

It's all about knowledge folks.


JeanH Jan 20th, 2006 02:29 PM

Three years ago we traveled to Cuba from the US on a 'cultural exchange'. Cross Cultural Solutions offered the trip. We flew out of Miami. Our 'exchange' was actually the International Jazz Festival in Havana. Sort of a stretch of the intent of the law. But, at that time, it was legal. Not any more. Cross Cultural Solutions no longer offers trips to Cuba. The Bush administration has really tightened the screws on travel to Cuba. It was an awesome trip, and I hope that some day we'll be able to return.

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