Monday, April 17, 2017

Going to Cuba, legally

How do you get to Cuba legally?

Cuba was once a legal no go for American citizens. The two countries have been enemies since the Cuban revolution and travel has been banned since 1963. Noting that the embargo has done nothing to actually help the Cuban people, the Obama administration began to relax restrictions, with the goal of fully normalizing relations with the island nation.

Then in 2009, President Barrack Obama begins to ease travel restrictions. Over the following years of his administration, trade and travel restrictions continue to be eased. The American Embassy re opens in 2016, and restrictions are loosened on the import of Cuban rum and cigars.

But getting to Cuba still isn't quite as easy as flying to Cancun. Right now American citizens are only allowed to visit Cuba if they fit into 12 categories. Here are those 12 categories.

1.Family Travel
2.Official business of the US government, foreign governments, or certain intergovernmental organizations
3.Journalistic activity
4.Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, workshops, athletic and other completions, and exhibitions
8. Support for the Cuban People
9.Humanitarian efforts
10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes.
11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

Now you can also visit Cuba on a People to People Cultural tour. Which you would book through a tour company or travel agent. This would allow you to travel on a fully guided tour, where you would interact with the Cuban people. With them you would immerse yourself in Cuba's history and Cuba, but no lounging on the beach!

The people to people option is really great but there are a few draw backs. All the tour itinerary are mandatory. Don't feel like attending Salsa lessons? Tough shit. Its part of the tour, and part of their licensing agreement. While it's great fun and educational, some of the itinerary look pretty hard core. 8-10 days of walking, (with your nights free), so you have to come prepared and be in decent health. The other draw back can be the price. An 8 day tour, without airfare could run you from 3-8k, and with reason since you have a fully guided tour each day of the trip. This was what I originally intended to do, however as the restrictions eased, I realized I could go on my own, as a journalist.-

More to come

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