The Trump Retrenchment Made (our kind of) Cuba Travel Even Easier

From a Rock and Ice article about rock climbing in Viñales, Cuba: “President Trump may be the master of the switch-and-bait. That’s right, a reverse bait-and-switch. He can arouse his folks and goad the media, and what’s buried in the details goes undetected. Intentionally or not, he just did that on travel to Cuba.” and the details have to do with changes to the “Support for the Cuban People” license.

Even in these days of extreme divisiveness in US politics both sides can usually agree on one thing - Trump can cause a scene.

The following actions and events have instilled uncertainty and fear into would be American travelers:

This quintuple whammy of bad news has drastically decreased demand in the Cuba travel market.

The 1-2-3-4-5 Punch

Trump’s June speech signaled to the Miami Cuban people, and the press took it as a sign of changes to come. At the same time he started the clock on a policy review that took twenty weeks to tick down. In the interim institutions and individuals with their eye on the island hesitated to take next steps, uncertain as to when and what changes were coming.

In September Irma sideswiped the island and produced prodigious amounts of rainfall and sea swell.  The press, preoccupied by Harvey’s aftermath and Irma’s swerving towards Florida, largely only recycled shocking images. Those media outlets that always have something to say about Cuba said their same thing – the regime continues to cast a stifling shadow over the country – now applied (inarticulately as it turns out) to its ability to respond and rebuild.

All the while these sonic targeted health attacks have been perpetually postulated about by state and press.

Update: there is still zero public evidence of any of it.

But, should it come to light that a bad actor is involved, then the US’s attitude of secrecy will have been justified. Of course since the few-administrations-long trend has been one of a government turning increasingly secretive while concurrently eroding rights to privacy of its people suspicion of motive and agenda isn’t exactly ebbing. Whatever the reasons the placement of a travel warning and embassy draw down triggers immediate cancellations among most high school and university educational travel programs.

Finally, OFAC has released the new policy and it turns out that the delay was way worse than the new rules for the future of Cuba travel. This becomes the first piece of good news…

Whether intentional or not, the Trump Administration or deep government OFAC officials, actually made legal travel to Cuba even easier!

OFAC may have outlawed the individual People to People license but replaced it by redefining another

The ‘Support for the Cuban People’ general license is less restrictive than the old P2P one was. It has been redefined in the following ways:

  1. to include activities of organizations and individuals
  2. Americans can’t spend money at places on the Cuba Restricted List

Additionally. the US government dictates that you must behave a certain way while you are abroad. To stay out of trouble:

  • “Engage in a full-time schedule of activities that
    • enhance contact with the people,
    • support civil society in,
    • or promote the people’s independence from Cuban authorities and
  • that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.”
  • Also “The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.”

Translation: Engage in meaningful interactions with Cubans at least 6 hours a day and don’t stay or shop at any of the places on that list.

We think that’s the way everyone should go everywhere anyway!!!

GoodTrip’s founder and head guinea pig Ryan Stimmel just put this new license to the test himself.  “It really is that wide open and easy” he reports. But, there is a very real chance of audit so you should 1) keep as many receipts as possible 2) produce, keep and update an itinerary and 3) consider keeping a travel journal of the people you meet; and keep it all on file for 5 years. If you can’t or don’t want to do all that then we’re here 😉

Also, Ryan mentions that Customs and Border Protection is serious about their import limits – no more than a combined $400 USD, at least when it comes to rum and cigars. They didn’t seem to care about the additional $700 of art work he was carrying.

Our tours are still and always will be legal. Book your trip today!

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