From Art Heitzer Chair National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee
Date June 5, 2019
Having read through many of the reports, and all of the relevant parts of the OFAC FAQs, I think that the best thing to look at if you want to read for yourself what OFAC says is Frequently Asked Questions.
It is also helpful to note at the top of page 2, of the FAQs, OFAC identifies which of the FAQs’ answers have changed, and so if the FAQs pertaining to a particular basis of travel that you are interested in is not among those, that is a clear sign that nothing regarding that has been changed by the announcement and regulation changes today.
Here are a few points:
1. Most of the 12 categories of recognized legal basis for U.S. travelers to Cuba have not been changed. All 12 need to continue to exist unless Congress adds or removes them, but they can be defined by the Administration broadly or narrowly, including almost impossible to meet, as happened under W. Bush for some categories.
2. Only one category has been altered, so far, which is Educational, and that change is to eliminate the recognition of the concept that “People to People” interchanges are educational. But more traditional educational exchanges or study abroad programs through a college or high school, for example, have not been affected by what has come out so far. So as of now, it is the same as it has been in recent years, for college or even high school study abroad or exchanges in or to Cuba.
3. All other categories are untouched. None of these have been converted into “special license” situations. Likewise, Carrier or Travel Service Providers (TSPs) remain unchanged, with no specific license required. See Q & A 39 & 42 re that.
4. Aside from the above, U.S. Dept. of Commerce has cancelled all licenses for U.D. based cruise ships to visit Cuba. This has reportedly resulted in 800,000 U.S. people having their bookings which included stops in Cuba to have those stops removed. However, air flights to Cuba have not been affected. Of course, these depend on having passengers, so getting accurate information so that substantial (& legally recognized) US travel to Cuba can be continued is very important.
5. The Admin. has promised more bad things re U.S. relations with, and imposition of burdens on, Cuba. These may or may not pertain to travel.
Finally, I will now insert a link to the most upbeat description of what has happened; it is from a friend and colleague, and I think all of that is accurate, see https://LegalCubaTravel.com.