August 28, 2018—“Although overdue, certainly a move in the right direction,” said MEDICC Board Chair Dr. Peter G. Bourne, referring to the August 23 announcement by the U.S. Department of State reclassifying the Cuba travel advisory. The decision no longer recommends U.S. citizens “reconsider travel” (reserved for level 3 countries), but instead that travelers “exercise increased caution” (for level 2 countries).
This places Cuba in the same category as Denmark, the UK, Italy, South Africa, France, Spain and the Bahamas…among dozens of other level-2 countries.
The earlier level 3 category was determined solely on the basis of health symptoms reported by a group of Havana-based U.S. diplomats some time ago. The source has yet to be determined, according to both Cuban medical experts and the FBI investigators who visited Havana on multiple occasions.
At the same time, in 2018, Cuba was awarded the title of “safest country” at Madrid’s International Tourism Fair. And no U.S. travelers have reported symptoms similar to those of diplomats in 2016-2017, according to CREST, the Center for Responsible Travel.
The State Department’s inter-agency Crime and Safety Report for Cuba in 2017 notes that crimes against tourists are few and nonviolent, mainly limited to “pickpocketing, purse snatching, fraud schemes, and thefts from unoccupied [premises]…”. The same report, which criticizes aspects such as road safety in Cuba and slow police response, also calls Havana a “low-threat location for terrorist activity” and for “political violence”. Its overall “Embassy Guidance” notes that “Cuba welcomes American travelers, and Americans are generally well received by Cubans.”
“Not only are Americans welcome,” noted MEDICC Executive Director Dr. C. William Keck, “but in MEDICC’s experience, people in both countries have much in common, much to share and to learn from each other. This, we find, is always the best route to explore.”
MEDICC recently announced its second annual conference, A Healthy Cuba, Healthy World: Celebrating History, Community and Culture, slated for December 5 to 9/10 in Santiago de Cuba, a professional meeting authorized under general license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Navigate to http://medicc.org/ns/healthycubahealthyworld/ for more, including discounted early bird registration through September 24.
For more on legal, safe travel to Cuba, see also Center for Responsible Travel.