TRAVEL TO CUBA

Current Opportunities

Witness for Peace / Solidarity Collective Trips to Cuba, 2022-2023

  • Cuba, Surviving the Pandemic & Beyond — Jan. 6-15, 2023 (apply by Oct. 27, 2022)
  • Curious about Cuba? Learn about Arts, Culture and U.S.-Cuba Relations — Feb. 10-19, 2023 (application/deposit due Nov. 10, 2022) (download trip flyer)
  • Healing Our Land, Healing Ourselves — Oct. 8-17, 2022 (application deadline passed)
  • The U.S. Can’t Blockade Hope: Universal Healthcare, Housing and Social Services — 
    Nov. 25- Dec. 4 (application deadline passed)
  • Caring for Our People, Caring for the Land — Dec. 2-11, 2022 (application deadline passed)

~ Learn More ~


People To People Exchange, January 2023, Havana Jazz Festival 

While the organization requested applications by August 15, that was to assess initial numbers; if interested, you may still have the ability to participate. From their e-mail:

Applications due August 15
In order to plan effectively, we would like to get a head count of participants by August 15
Application

Options
We have prepared two itineraries:
One itinerary stays in Havana with day trips to nearby sites and the second takes to the road with stops in Santa Clara (Che’s Monument), Camaguey and Santiago (Jazz Fest in Santiago

Due to the pandemic the Jazz Fest was halted in 2021 and 2022, tourism was also slowed to a halt. The 2023 Festival will be a popular ticket as people return to Cuba. Our groups will be limited to 15 people/first come- first serve. If we receive more than 15 applications we will create more than one group.

Our Goals
HotHouse is not in the travel business but we have learned in our many years building bridges via cultural work, how vital smart diplomacy is and how direct relationship building works to demystify misconceptions. 

We have created our own people-to-people cultural exchanges and our other projects in Cuba, as a means to demonstrate  overt support for the Cuban people and their sovereign right to determine their own system of governance. 

We design the trips we take to encourage low impact tourism, we walk through neighborhoods and try and visit “off the beaten path” locations as well as including the favorite sights. 

We organize ongoing opportunities to further the work upon return with actions of solidarity – especially asking people who travel with us to do something concrete to End the Blockade. 

Given the current reality in Cuba, with the January Delegations we will be asking people traveling with us to plan on bringing some specific material aid we will distribute to the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. More on this later.

In our 7 years of doing this work, we have taken more than 70 people with us, many more than once-a testimony of the fun we have and the memorable experiences we deliver.  

We work with seasoned travel agents and friends on the ground to create special customized programs based on feedback and our relationships with you. In all, we try and create affordable, easy-going trips that give a good overview of Cuba.

We hope you will join us!   

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

We organize payment in 3 installments and host one in-person preparatory session to present some historical context to the trip and help orient you to the travel.  

The Center for International Performance and Exhibition | c/o 5555 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60640

How to Plan a ‘Support for the Cuban People’ Trip

Find original article here

This week, the Trump administration announced that they were “cancelling” the Obama administration’s policy of “easing of restrictions on travel and trade” with Cuba, and signing into law a new policy that would “strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services” of the Castro regime.

Like many people, I’ve listened to Trump’s rhetoric over the past two years and was confused, and a little worried; I traveled to Cuba for the first time in 2016, and wanted to go back — next time, I hoped, with my dad, who was born in Havana in 1954 and hasn’t been back since he emigrated to the United States seven years later.

As a recent college graduate, I can’t really afford to pay for a trip with a travel agency. So I had two questions about Trump’s Cuba policy. The first: Would it be legal to go to Cuba, as a U.S. citizen, with no family on the island? And the second: Could I plan a trip myself, and visit many of the places and people I did two years ago, without booking through a travel company?

The answer to the first question is clear, and the news is good: Under the Trump administration’s policy, it will be legal to travel to Cuba as a U.S. citizen, with a U.S. passport, from the United States. Airlines including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United currently offer direct flights to Havana from southern Florida (and connecting flights from other U.S. cities), and will continue to do so even after Trump’s policy changes go into effect.

The second answer is good news, too. You can travel to Cuba as an individual, by traveling under a category called support for the Cuban people.” A category meant to encourage kitchen table diplomacy with a full time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people and interacting with ordinary Cubans in a way that promotes civil society and independence from Cuban authorities.

Planning a support for the Cuban people trip is a great option if you’re a general traveler who isn’t going to Cuba for a more specific purpose (e.g., journalism); wants to travel by yourself (or with a small group of friends or family members); and don’t mind doing a little extra work to plan your own itinerary.

Luckily, if that sounds like you, you’ve got this guide to make it easy.

What is “support for the Cuban people”?

Here’s the deal: Currently, there are 12 categories of Cuba travel that are pre-approved by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under what are called “general licenses.” These include journalistic activities, professional research and meetings, and visits to close relatives. (If you have questions about any of these categories, a good place to start is the Treasury Department’s FAQ page.) One of the broad categories remaining is support for the Cuban people.

News articles are talking about a previous category, people-to-people, because it was the one removed by this weeks’ policy changes. Under the new U.S.-Cuba policy, “people-to-people” travel has been removed as an option.

But there are 12 other travel categories, and one of them, support for the Cuban people, allows you to do many of the same things that were covered by the people-to-people license. And you can still plan the trip yourself.

In many cases, it’s simply a matter of reframing the purpose of your trip; people-to-people travel focused on fostering “meaningful interactions” between U.S. travelers and Cubans, while support for the Cuban people focuses on promoting independent “civil society” in Cuba. The easiest way to do this is by supporting the growing Cuban private sector. In Sen. Rubio’s own words, your travel plans will be considered support for the Cuban people if you do things like “shop, eat, and stay at small businesses owned by individual Cubans” — all things many people-to-people travelers were doing, already.

What documents do I need?

To travel under a support for the Cuban people license, you’ll need a valid U.S. passport (with at least two blank pages) valid for 6 months from travel, a plane ticket, and a Cuban travel visa (or “tourist card,” as the Cuban government calls it).

The visa is required by the Cuban government, and is basically a one-page pink tear-sheet that asks for your name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and passport number. Your airline will give you the visa to fill out either when you book your flight or at the gate before departure. See this article for a helpful breakdown of visa prices and procedures by airline. (If for some reason your airline doesn’t provide Cuban travel visas, you can purchase one online here. Most major U.S. airlines have specific pages on their websites about Cuba travel with information on necessary documents and how to get them, so if you have any questions, check there, first.)

The last things you’ll need are documents associated with the support for the Cuban people license.

To be clear, the license itself isn’t an actual form, and you don’t have to apply or pay for it. Most airlines will simply ask you to check a box that specifies your purpose of travel (or “OFAC category”) when you fill out your visa and again during the flight. You’ll also be asked a few standard questions about your reason for travel and where you’re staying when you go through Customs. So just be aware of which category you’re traveling under. (If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can print out a generic travel affidavit like this one to take with you; but doing so isn’t necessary.)

Generally speaking, the only license-related document you’ll really need to worry about is an itinerary, which shows that your travel plans in Cuba constitute “support for the Cuban people.”

We’ll cover how to create a support for the Cuban people itinerary, next.

Planning your support for the Cuban people trip

Now’s the fun part: planning what you’ll actually do while you’re in Cuba.

The support for the Cuban people license requires that you have a full schedule of activities, and keep records of these activities during your trip. The best way to do this is by planning your schedule before you go, typing it up in an itinerary, and saving any receipts, business cards, etc., that you pick up during your stay for at least five years. (Photographs, emails or even journal entries can do the trick; basically, the idea is just to show that you spent your time — and money — supporting private businesses.)

Most likely, no one is going to ask to see your itinerary or transaction records at U.S. Customs when you return from Cuba, but you still need to have them on-hand at the airport, just in case. (If you’re traveling with friends or family members, each person needs to have her own copy of the itinerary.)

The main things to account for when planning your itinerary are where you’ll stay, where you’ll eat, and what you’ll do for major activities each day. These can’t include “tourist activities” or “free time” (e.g., lounging at the beach), and should for the most part be connected to supporting private (i.e., non-state-owned) businesses.

We’ll walk through the major points of the itinerary, and then give you an example of what one might look like.

Where to stay: Casas particulares

Most hotels in Cuba are owned by the government, which means you can’t stay in them on a support for the Cuban people trip. However, many Cubans have started renting out their homes (or private rooms in their homes) to tourists as bed-and-breakfasts. These casas particulares, as they’re called, often come with Wifi, air conditioning, and a home-cooked breakfast with fresh mango juice each morning. Staying in one, and having breakfast with your Cuban host, is also a great way to get to know local Cubans.

Casas can be booked through Airbnb. (Lonely Planet has a thread on casas on its Cuba forum — see FAQ #20 — that includes other ways to book.) While U.S. credit and debit cards don’t work in Cuba, you can send payments through Airbnb and other third-party rental sites to Cuba while you’re in the U.S., so you can book a casa particular in advance. (If disaster strikes, don’t panic; you can find a casa pretty easily once you’re in Cuba by asking around or walking down any residential street and looking for a blue-and-white “rent room / arrendador divisa” sign, and pay in cash.)

Cervezas and people watching at ‘La Cervecera’ in Plaza Vieja in Habana Vieja

Where to eat: Paladares

In addition to casas particulares, many Cubans have received licenses to open paladares, or private restaurants, in recent years. The food at paladares is very good — better than at most state-owned restaurants — and they’re extremely popular.

You can figure out which paladares you’d like to visit by reading TripAdvisor, or by searching AlaMesa, which is like a Cuban version of Yelp or OpenTable. It’s wise to make reservations ahead of time (particularly if you’re visiting Cuba during tourist season, which runs from late-November through mid-March and all of July and August). But with over 1,700 paladares on the island (and hundreds in Havana, alone), you’ve got options.

Cocktails at El de Frente in Habana Vieja

Here are a few of my favorites: El Bukan (Matanzas), Piraterias (Santa Clara), La Marinera (Trinidad), La Catetral (Havana), La Guarida (Havana), La Paila (Havana), Versus (Vedado/Havana), El del Frente (Havana).

Take a tour of Havana and the malecon in a privately owned ‘classico’

What to do: Support small businesses

While many Cubans have gotten licenses to open private restaurants or B&Bs, there are hundreds of thousands of Cuban small business owners — or cuentapropistas — licensed to do everything from screen printing to leading bike tours to running tech start-ups.

Need a haircut? Go to Papito’s, an ornate barbershop (and hairdressing museum) in Old Havana. Want to see the lush landscape of Western Cuba up close? Get in touch with one of these groups through AirBnB experiences, which lead rock climbing or horseback tours through Viñales Valley — past the endless rows of yucca and towering mogotes. Want to do a walking tour of Old Havana? Book a guide through Airbnb. Need a ride from Trinidad to Havana? Have your Casa host arrange travel in a private taxi. Looking for handmade crafts and artworks? Check out the galleries on Calle Obispo.

Rock climbing with ‘El Escalada en Cuba’ in Vinales

Overall, the thing to keep in mind is that if there’s something that you want to do in Cuba, odds are there’s a small business associated with it. Everyone has a side-job in Cuba, where the average state salary is about $24 a month — and with 123 professions currently eligible for small business licenses, having one is easier than it’s been in decades.

Next, we’ll take a look at an example of what a support for the Cuban people itinerary might look like.

36 hours in Havana, Cuba

Day 1: Saturday

9:00 AM | Arrive at José Martí International Airport.

10:00 AM | Rent a private taxi from the airport to a casa particular. (Book casa in advance through Airbnb)

10:30 AM | Arrive at the casa in Vedado, a bohemian neighborhood of Havana, and unpack.

11:00 AM | Get familiar with the neighborhood of Vedado: Local money changers, for exchanging money; Etecsa, for buying cell phone cards and internet; grocery stores for buying snacks and water; and local Wifi spots. Speak with local shop owners about running a small business in Cuba.

12:00 PM | Walk to the Paseo del Prado for lunch at El Cafe, a paladar in Habana Vieja.

2:00 PM | Bike tour of Havana with Vélo Cuba (Habana Vieja). (Book tour in advance)

5:00 PM | Non-yellow cab or bike taxi back to Vedado

5:30 PM | Head back to the casa to get ready for dinner.

7:30 PM | Dinner at El Cocinero (Vedado)

9:30 PM | Sharing a building with El Cocinero is Fabrica del Arte, a one-of-a-kind art gallery, bar, and performance venue. Wander through, and talk with la Habana’s cosmopolitan hipsters in bright converse, talk with them about millennial life in Cuba and their hopes for the future. Check out the exhibitions (and hold onto your drink ticket or you’ll be charged for the full ticket when you leave!)

12:30 AM | Back to the casa

Fabrica de Arte, Havana’s mecca of art, music, fashion and film

Day 2: Sunday

8:30 AM | Breakfast at the casa with your Cuban host. Ask about running a small business in Cuba, and maybe help with setting up a facebook page or Instagram account for their business.

9:30 AM | Walk through some of the many outdoor corner markets in Vedado.

11:00 AM | Walk to the Hotel Nacional to buy an internet card and use WiFi, if you need to. Hotel Nacional is run by the Gran Caribe Group and is permissible under the new rules — it also has an incredible view of the Malecon from its porch.

12:00 PM | From the Hotel Nacional, grab a non-yellow cab or bike taxi to Habana Vieja for lunch at El del Frente.

1:30 PM | After lunch, walk to Plaza de Vieja (Habana Vieja) for coffee and people watching at Cafe El Escorial.

2:30 PM | Walk to La Marca (Habana Vieja), the first (legal) body art and tattoo studio in Cuba.

Screenprinting at Clandestina

3:00 PM | Walk to Clandestina or Dador (Habana Vieja), privately-owned fashion and design shops that sells t- shirts, prints, and more. Speak with the business owners about how they’ve set up an online store that delivers to the U.S.

4:00 PM | Rent a bike taxi back to Vedado.

4:30 PM | Exchange money at Banco Metropolitano, if you need to.

5:00 PM | Head back to the casa to get ready for dinner.

7:00 PM | Dinner at La Guarida, one of the most famous paladares in Cuba located in the apartment where the famous Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate was filmed.

9:30 PM | Taxi to Jazz Cafe or Jazz Club La Zorra Y El Cuervo for live jazz.

12:30 AM | Back to the casa

Day 3: Monday

7:00 AM | Breakfast at the casa with your Cuban host.

8:00 AM | Leave for José Martí International Airport.

10:00 AM | Depart to Ft. Lauderdale

* When planning your trip, you should aim for at least three support for the Cuban people activities per day. (Your casa particular and meals cover two of those, so find at least one more, and you’re good.)

* Not everything you do has to be connected to the Cuban private sector, but all of your transactions should be.

* Your itinerary doesn’t need to be super detailed — “Lunch at a paladar” is fine — but the less familiar you are with Cuba, the more planning the specifics in advance will just make your life easier. Just remember to have this available for Customs when returning to the U.S. and keep a record of it for 5 years (potentially by archiving it in your email.)

* Remember to include your dates of travel in your itinerary.

* Examples of things that don’t fall under a support for the Cuban people trip: Hanging out at the beach, excessive “free time and recreation,” visiting the Museum of the Revolution, staying at a hotel, eating at a state-run restaurant (e.g., La Ferminia), booking a walking tour with a state- owned travel agency (e.g., Havanatur).

* Examples of things that are fine to do but should be accompanied by activities that focus specifically on supporting private enterprise: visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, seeing a movie, going to a ballet, attending other arts and culture events.

There’s never been a better time to visit Cuba, and by travelling under a support for the Cuban people license, doing so as a U.S. citizen can be simple and affordable.

At the same time, it means you’ll be supporting Cuban artists and entrepreneurs — some of the most talented and ingenuitive people the world over.

So have fun, and pa’lante.TRAVEL


Maggie Sivit
Maggie Sivit

Maggie Sivit is a production assistant at WBEZ Chicago and a freelance writer and videographer. She traveled to Cuba for the first time with CubaOne in June of 2016. Find more of her work at http://www.maggiesivit.zone

Traveling to Cuba is Simple, Whoever Told You It’s Not is Doing it Wrong

Find original post here

The appetite to explore Cuba as an American maybe akin to something like wanting a forbidden fruit, at least that’s the classic trope. But Americans have been traveling to the island for years now, even before Trump’s recent announcement and Obama’s relaxed relations in 2015.

As more and more people travel to the island, the same old cautionary tales of the confusing logistics of traveling to Cuba seem exaggerated. In fact, traveling to Cuba is simple, and it’s happening more and more often.

Just think about it, over 500,000 Americans will travel to Cuba this year. American AirlinesDeltaJetBlue and Southwest are among many airlines that operate daily flights to Cuba.

Traveling to Cuba is easy. Here’s what you should know when planning your trip.

First thing’s first: Book a flight.

Regularly scheduled flights between the United States and Cuba happen on a daily basis. Getting yourself on one of those planes is simple. Just book a flight online. Some airlines that have flights to Cuba include Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and Southwest. 

If you bring luggage, just know, charges will apply if they exceed 50 pounds. Flights from the U.S. travel to Cuban cities like Havana, Santa Clara, Camagüey, Cienfuegos and Holguín. They should cost between $70-$180 dollars one way depending on when you choose to go.

Papers and Documents – OFAC and Visa

Which leads to the next step, “all that paperwork,” which really just consists of two documents, both of which can be handled at the airport before departure. First, you must categorize your trip, since only “authorized travel” is permitted by the U.S. Here are the options the federal government gives you:

  • Any type of support for the Cuban people
  • Family visits to any relatives in Cuba
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba
  • Religious activities in Cuba
  • Humanitarian projects in Cuba
  • Professional research and professional meetings in Cuba
  • Educational activities in Cuba for Universities (think study abroad)
  • Journalistic activities in Cuba
  • Activities in Cuba by private foundations, or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information technologies or materials
  • Certain authorized export transactions including agricultural and medical products, and tools, equipment and construction supplies for private use
  • Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations

Some travel-friendly options include: Family visits; support for the Cuban people; religious activities; professional research and professional meetings; and public performances.

So, if If you’re staying at a “casa particular” and eating at “paladars” that counts as “support of the Cuban people, if you plan an itinerary including church visits, you can check off “religious activities.” Or if you plan on seeing ballet,  live music or participating in community performances, check off “public performances.”

Next, you need your Visa. The Cuban government welcomes you as a tourist, but the card will cost around $50-$100. Keep an eye out with your airline service, sometimes this is already included in the processing fee. Or you can buy them online. That, or an airline will allow you to purchase your tourist card with them. Just in case, it always helps to call and ask.

When filling out the tourist card make sure you don’t cross anything out, because if you damage your original card you’ll have to buy a new one. Also, keep it in a secure place, somewhere all your other valuable documents are. You’ll need it for your flight back, too.

What to do if you were born in Cuba

If you immigrated to the U.S. before 1971, and you’re a U.S. Citizen, you’ll need a H11 Visa, which you can apply for at a travel company like OnCuba TravelMarazul or Cuba Travel Services or with the Cuban Consulate.

If you’re a Cuban born U.S. Citizen, who immigrated after 1971, you’ll need a Cuban passport while in Cuba and a U.S. passport in the U.S. This is called dual citizenship, and many other countries require this as well, like India, Norway, China and the Netherlands (among others.) Cuban passport renewals are quite expensive ($400+) and can take 6+ months to process, so plan in well in advance. We recommend working with a travel company like OnCuba TravelMarazul or Cuba Travel Services to help you through the process, but this can also be done at the Cuban Consulate.

What to do if you have Cuban-born parents

If you were born in America, you are an American. There are lots of rumors out there, but they’re false.

If you were born in America you are a U.S. citizen anywhere you go.

Upon arriving in Cuba

In Cuba you won’t be able to use credit or debit cards from U.S. banks. Make sure to take out money beforehand, and exchange it for the Cuban currency at the airport. There are currency exchange stores in Cuba, where you can do this as well.

Cuba has two currencies, the CUP, which is the peso that most Cubans earn and use, and the CUC, which is what tourists are given. The CUC has a purchasing power of 20-25x the CUP, and is the only currency accepted in many places like Casa Particulares and Paladars.

Another heads up, there will be about a 10 percent fee when you exchange American currency, if you want to get more “bang for your buck,” exchange your currency to Canadian dollars or Euros first, you’ll save 10 percent on fees, and make sure more of the money you spend in Cuba is getting into the hands of Cuban people.

Before arrival you can book a casa particular through a site like AirBnB. Casa particulars are like bed and breakfasts where Cuban citizens rent out rooms in their homes. They come with air conditioning, home cooked meals and if you’re so lucky maybe even a domino game and a mojito. Now as far as getting around, you could hire a private car or use Cuba’s taxis. If you’re brave you can take an almendrone or the bus too, but I wouldn’t recommend it, they tend to get crowded.

Ready. Set. Travel.

Now, you too, can pose against El Malecon and take pictures of the bustling alleys in Habana Vieja before “it changes.” And, yes, Cuba is changing. Last year alone, more than 500,000 small business owners had their own private enterprise in Cuba. And U.S. tourism has been growing by 60 percent a year.

The Cuban people are excited about the progress, and by traveling to Cuba now, you can help kindle the excitement by taking part of the change.

So please don’t be hesitant. Book a flight, if your heart desires, and see the island for yourself.CUBACUBAONEHERITAGEREUNIONTRAVEL


Amanda Rabines
Amanda Rabines

Reporter at GrowthSpotter. Freelance journalist @WLRN and @trdMiami. FIU alum. Millennial – send goji berries into my dropbox please. She traveled to Cuba with CubaOne in June of 2016.

MEDICC – Exploring Health, Wellness & Culture in Cuba

February 16-22, 2020 – Final Deadling November 13, 2019

When: February 16-22, 2020
 
Where: Cuba’s capital city of Havana, just past its 500-year anniversary
 
Who: MEDICC welcomes all whose area of expertise and/or profession is medicine, health or wellness; as well as artists, photographers, actors, musicians and other cultural workers whose professional life includes culture as a component of health, contributing to improved social determinants of health or individual/population wellbeing.
 
Online Registration:  Click on this link for the online registration form.

For More Information Click Here


Restore Diplomatic Relations With Cuba Delegation

December 14–18, 2019 OR December 14–21, 2019

Photo from http://www.codepink.org

This December join CODEPINK in Havana to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Obama/Castro restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba. In collaboration with Proximity Cuba, we will explore the island and learn more about Cuba’s culture.  Participants will have the opportunity to attend a possible meeting with the U.S. Embassy in Havana to discuss constructive ways to support the Cuban people.

Travelers with this unique delegation will have the opportunity to interact directly with Cubans from all walks of life and to explore potential humanitarian projects and channels for supporting Cuba’s civil society.  The trip itinerary includes community projects, engagement with grassroots and non-governmental organizations and lodging in bed & breakfasts.  Enjoy Cuban food in privately- and cooperatively-owned paladares while engaging alongside Cubans in specially-selected cultural activities.

Participants can choose from multiple itinerary options to suit their desired price points:

  • Travel dates from December 14thto 18thwith lodging in a bed and breakfast
  • Travel dates from December 14thto 18thwith lodging in the Hotel Victoria
  • Travel dates from December 14thto 21stwith lodging in a bed and breakfast
  • Travel Dates from December 14thto 21stwith lodging in the Hotel Victoria

For details on flights and costs and to view a tentative itinerary, visit the Proximity Cuba website here.


7 Things You Need to Know About Going to Cuba Now

The Trump administration changed the rules for Americans traveling to Cuba in June, but it did not close down tourism Read More


Cuba Bike Tour

Immersive Cycling Experience in the Real Cuba

For more information : https://bicyclebreeze.net/tours/celia-sanchez-2/


Camagüey, Cuba – January 5-14, 2020

Sponsored by the Madison Camagüey Sister City Association (MCSCA), this will be the fourth edition of our music and cultural exchanges with artists in Camagüey, Cuba.

Following up on our wildly successful visit last January, we will travel with Madison’s Afro Peruvian ensemble GOLPE TIERRA and the ACOPLADOS LATIN JAZZ PROJECT, as well as other notable Jazz musicians from our community for this unique musical collaboration between our sister cities. In 2015 and again in 2017, GOLPE TIERRA won the hearts of camagueyanos with their infectious sounds, so we are excited to bring them back together with ACOPLADOS LATIN JAZZ PROJECT and showcase the best from Madison’s thriving Latin Jazz scene.


Please consider this your invitation to join us for CAMAGüEY JAZZ 2020: Nine days of music and culture in Camagüey, Cuba.  Reserve your place now as this group is likely to fill up soon.

TOUR PACKAGE COST: $975* (50% discount for Students)
This package includes arrival airport transfer, all program costs (such as musician stipends, donations/gifts to our hosts, administrative and program costs here and in Cuba), welcome and farewell dinners, admission to all events, and day trip to the coast.

Each traveler will be responsible for booking his/her own flights to Camagüey, which is serviced daily from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida. Travelers will also be responsible for obtaining their Cuban visa thru the airline. MCSCA will make all the reservations at B&Bs (casas particulares) in the area surrounding beautifully-restored 18th Century San Juan de Dios Square, and set up a program that will keep us busy and meet the requirements of Federal REGS.

Camagüey is Cuba’s third largest city and was designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 2008. The city is steeped in history and tradition and is one of the main cultural powerhouses in the Island. Our program will include walking tours to appreciate the city’s colonial architecture and its history, visits to museums and art galleries, nightly music & dance events, dance lessons, plus many opportunities to meet with various sectors of Camagüey society. 

To sign up we will need a copy of your Passport page with all the information and a deposit check to MCSCA for $500 by October 1.  MCSCA is a 501.c3 organization, so the Tour Package cost is fully tax-deductible. 

Please send to: MCSCA, 1217 Seminole Hwy, Madison WI 53711.  Contact us at madisoncamaguey@gmail.com with any questions or concerns. We will schedule a meeting early in October to review the particulars of travel to Cuba, what to expect, what to bring and prepare for. 

We at MCSCA have endeavored over the past 25 years to allow the people of our communities to get to know and learn from each other by providing affordable opportunities for travel and engagement with the Cuban people. The Music and Cultural Exchanges have proven to be among the most fun and rewarding of our trips.

Join us to make the January 2020 edition even better!
 
Ricardo Gonzalez
Tour Leader
 

*When factoring in the costs of round-trip air travel from Madison to Camagüey, plus Cuban Visa, B&B charges and daily miscellaneous expenses, the total cost of this trip may be approximately $2,400 for single occupancy–$2,200 double. Students at discount: $1,900 single/$1,700 double.


Updated Travel to Cuba, June 2019!

From Atty. Art Heitzer, artheitzer@gmail.com, Chair of the National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee, June 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.

https://globaljusticecenter.org/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D482%26reset%3D1

The Trump administration has placed new restrictions on American travel and trade to the island nation. But what does it actually mean?

Yes, you can still visit Cuba. Despite tight new travel and trade restrictions announced by the federal government yesterday—making good on President Trump’s pledge to freeze the thaw between America and Cuba that started during the Obama administration in January 2015—the island nation isn’t entirely off limits.

To start: If you have a flight booked or a trip planned, you don’t have to cancel your trip. “Administration officials said the new regulations, which will take effect Thursday, would not affect certain existing transactions,” reports The Washington Post. “For visitors, that means anyone who has ‘completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodations) prior to’ publication of the new regulations in the Federal Register on Thursday.”

One big thing to keep in mind: There are still categories of authorized travel to Cuba, and you have to fall under one of those categories to visit. The solo/individual trips you’ve been able to take the past year—where you book a flight on your own, get a visa, and go with a loose interpretation of the “support of the Cuban people” category—isn’t quite kosher anymore. You have to prove that you “engaged in a full-time schedule” of interactions with Cubans and activities that support civil society. Tour groups take care of this for you with full-day itineraries of people-to-people and cultural exchanges; if you’re on your own and asked about it at U.S. customs on your way home, you’d have to show that you had meaningful interactions. It’s tricky. (We cover this, and all the other challenges of traveling just 90 miles from Florida, in our Travelogue podcast.)

Travelers are also panicking a bit about the long (long) list of Cuban businesses Americans have been barred from doing business with when they visit—it includes state-run hotels across Havana, tourist agencies, and stores that the U.S. State Department says don’t support “private enterprise in Cuba.” But there’s a very good chance that if you take a trip to Cuba with a tour group, you won’t frequent many, if any, of the places on the banned list. My trip to Havana with InsightCuba included several nights at Hotel Meliá Cohiba, a Spanish chain; lunch at Starbien and Paladar Los Mercaderes; a cigar rolling lesson at El Figaro; a private jazz show at La Zorra y El Cuervo; and a walk-through of the famed Hotel Nacional, in addition to several people-to-people exchanges with artists and musicians. None of this is restricted. Most of what’s barred is owned or operated by Compañía Habaguanex or Gaviota Tourism, two major Cuban hospitality groups.

In truth, much of the Cuban economy is still dominated by companies run by (or benefiting) the government, though the number of private businesses is on the rise. As previously reported by Traveler‘s Paul Brady, Airbnb rentals are mostly casas particulares, “an existing form of legal lodging in Cuba that lets travelers stay in private homes.” And the paladars where you will likely eat lunch or dinner are often family-owned restaurants.

“Americans can rest assured that it’s still completely legal to visit Cuba,” Cuba Educational TravelPresident Collin Laverty said yesterday in an email statement. “Commercial flightscruise ships, Marriott hotels, Airbnb, and top-notch tour providers continue to operate business as usual, and it takes just minutes to secure your legal trip to the island. U.S. companies will continue to pursue deals that comply with the new regulations, benefiting business owners, workers and consumers in both countries.”

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6 CUBA TRAVEL FACTS, from National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee,  June 21, 2017

1.  The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that we have a constitutional right to travel, but says it is not absolute.

2.  There are 12 categories for U.S. citizens\residents to travel to Cuba & spend money legally, according to the US government.

3.  Congress can change what these 12 categories are; the Administration can change how they are defined and fulfilled.

4.  55 U.S. Senators have co-sponsored a total repeal of those travel restrictions, but the Senate leadership has not allowed a vote. The U.S. House of Representatives with a Republican majority had previously voted to deny any funds to enforce these restrictions; but more recently Speaker Paul Ryan has effectively blocked such a vote in the House.

5.  For only 6 of the 8 years under President George W. Bush, the U.S. attempted active enforcement of these restrictions, but abandoned that in late 2006 after strong opposition, civil disobedience, and other political setbacks.

6. Our standard advice to any U.S. travelers to Cuba 2 is: 1) never lie to a U.S.  government official; and 2) do not supply any information about spending any money in Cuba.  You have a Constitutional right to remain silent about such matters under the 5th Amendment.

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CAMAGUEY JAZZ: A Music and Cultural People-to-People Exchange

Madison Camaguey Sister City Association (MCSCA)

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Cuba People-to-People Bicycle Tours

See the website for instructions.

Read More About Cuba People-to-People

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Reality Tours Updates

Cuba and Middle East Reality Tours Director

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Center for Global Justice 

Enjoy two stimulating weeks in a country committed to building Socialism.  Learn about Cuba’s public goods such as free health care and education provided by the state, its collective production and services in agricultural and urban cooperatives, its form of democratic governance, its private businesses, its community projects and more.  Experience Cuba’s vibrant culture and people.  Dialogue with leading thinkers about Cuba’s reforms as it reinvents its socialism for the 21st century.  A unique, in-depth look at a changing society.

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Witness for Peace

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Global Awareness Through Experience CUBA trips

Current Programs:
TBA

Elements of The Program

We enter Cuba with a Religious Activities visa sponsored through the Cuban Council of Churches. This is a unique opportunity to experience Cuba and her people.

As with other GATE programs, you will learn about:

  • The Cuban Revolution and how it has impacted families and the country
  • The effect of the decades-old blockade on the country
  • The high priority given to education and healthcare for all
  • Recent efforts at organic food production
  • The value given to the arts in people’s lives

Other programmed activities include:

  • A guided tour of the Bay of Pigs Museum
  • A visit to a highly specialized neurological center
  • An ecological preserve
  • A late afternoon visit to the former DuPont home
  • An opportunity to interact with children at a school
  • A presentation on current Cuban family life
  • A presentation on the Cuban system of government
  • Time at a Cuban Art Museum
  • Time in Old Havana and handicraft and art market
  • Families who own their own restaurants
  • A music or dance performance
  • and more!

Program fees: $2,500.00 (includes cost of visa)
Registration fees: $100.00 with completed registration form
Charter flight plus required Cuban health insurance: $469.00 (from December 2016)
Hotel cost in Miami and personal money for souvenirs etc. is not included.

The program fee includes all meals in Cuba, in-country transportation, translation, tips. Many in the previous groups opted for travel insurance in case of plane delays. This is your own choice. Many in the previous GATE groups opted to stay in a Miami hotel the night of our return from Havana. We have a morning flight from Miami to Havana, and a morning flight from Havana to Miami. The time of your connecting flights home would determine the need, or not, of an extra night in Miami.
Lodging in Cuba is in Havana and Matanzas.

While the program fee to Cuba is higher than most GATE programs, I have done a comparison search of other groups who travel to Cuba. Here are some samples:

A national magazine has advertised:

$5,855.00 for an 8-day period in Cuba
$5,980.00 for an 8-day period in Cuba

A national organization has advertised:
$5,770.00 + $380.00 group air travel from Miami-Havana-Miami for 7 days
$5,865.00 + $430.00 group air travel from Miami-Havana-Miami
*Charter flight costs vary by the month

Join us for this unique opportunity to meet our Cuban neighbors! As with all GATE programs, we do not go as tourists. All participants will be receiving a religious visa to enter the country. This does not mean that the focus of the program is church buildings, but rather Cuban people who work to improve life for their brothers and sisters.

Please contact GATE (gate@fspa.org) for more information and/or a registration form Given the advance time needed for visa work as well as group plane reservations from Miami to Havana to Miami, now is the time to register. With so many changes being made in Washington, we do not know how long it may be possible for American citizens to travel to Cuba. Contact us today and register!
Only a few spaces available, click here for registration.

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National Lawyers Guild–Cuba Subcommittee

633 W. Wisconsin Ave. Suite 1410

Milwaukee WI 52303-1918

(414) 273-1040 ext. 12

NLG CUBA SUBCOMMITTEE PLEDGES TO PROVIDE LEGAL ASSISTANCE TO U.S. TRAVELERS TO CUBA, IN SUPPORT OF THEIR RIGHT TO TRAVEL, June 16, 2017

In light of President Trump’s Miami announcement today, seeking to further curtail the right of U.S. residents and citizens to travel to Cuba, the Cuba Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild reiterates its longstanding support for the right to travel, and pledges to continue to provide legal assistance to U.S. travelers to Cuba.

The NLG through its Cuba subcommittee has been providing legal assistance to U.S. travelers to Cuba for decades, working in the past with the Center for Constitutional Rights. This included during the first six years of the administration of George W. Bush, which initiated an enforcement regime, including a series of “trials for travel,” held in Washington, D.C.  In response, the NLG Cuba SC established a national network of lawyers in 2000 to counsel and advise potential and returning U.S. travelers to Cuba. In the face of civil disobedience and other opposition, all formal enforcement actions effectively stopped by the end of 2006. However, both before and after that, U.S. travelers have faced the fear of both civil and criminal penalties.

“We do not know what kind of enforcement this new administration may attempt, to chill or penalize U.S. residents for exercising their right to travel,” stated Atty. Arthur Heitzer who chairs NLG Cuba Subcommittee, “but we need to be prepared.” Heitzer noted that the government could attempt to go back five years to penalize recent travelers to Cuba, and that no new regulations have yet been issued, nor are they promised sooner than “in the coming months.”

Heitzer quoted a publication issued today by U.S. Department of the Treasury, stating explicitly  that “The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel.” Heitzer added that any such “group” travel which it intends to allow, will be subject to having an on-site “agent” of the U.S.-based sponsoring entity to monitor the schedule for “each traveler” “Corralling U.S. travelers into groups with a U.S. ‘minder’ is antithetical to the proclamation that these restrictions are issued in order to uphold freedom,” Heitzer asserted.

For more information, contact the Cuba Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild at (414) 273-1040 ext. 12; email its chair at artheitzer@gmail.com,  or visit http://www.nlginternational.org/cuba-subcommittee/.

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Department of the Treasury – Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump’s Cuba Announcement by the President on June 16, 2017? Are the changes effective immediately?

1. How will OFAC implement the changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced.  OFAC will implement the Treasury-specific changes via amendments to its Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The Department of Commerce will implement any necessary changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations. OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming months. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

2. What is individual people-to-people travel, and how does the President’s
announcement impact this travel authorization?
Individual people-to-people travel is educational travel that: (i) does not involve
academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the
auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such
exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. The President instructed Treasury to
issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel. The announced
changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

3. Will group people-to-people travel still be authorized?
Yes. Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study
pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people
contact. Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban
people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from
Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba. An employee, consultant, or agent of the group must accompany
each group to ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational
exchange activities.

4. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual
people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel
arrangements (such as purchasing flights, hotels, or rental cars)?
The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided
that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as
purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement
on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip, whether the trip
occurs before or after OFAC’s new regulations are issued, would also be authorized,
provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June
16, 2017.

5. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect other
authorized travelers to Cuba whose travel arrangements may include direct
transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security
services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?
The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.
Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting Americans for
arranging lawful travel to Cuba, any travel-related arrangements that include direct
transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services
that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those
travel arrangements were initiated prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

6. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction that are already engaged in the Cuban market and that may undertake direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?
The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.
Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting American
businesses for engaging in lawful commercial opportunities, any Cuba-related
commercial engagement that includes direct transactions with entities related to the
Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba
policy will be permitted provided that those commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

7. Does the new policy affect how persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase
airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?
No. The new policy will not change how persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to
Cuba pursuant to the 12 categories of authorized travel may purchase their airline tickets.

8. Can I continue to send authorized remittances to Cuba?
Yes. The announced policy changes will not change the authorizations for sending
remittances to Cuba. Additionally, the announced changes include an exception that will
allow for transactions incidental to the sending, processing, and receipt of authorized
remittances to the extent they would otherwise be restricted by the new policy limiting
transactions with certain identified Cuban military, intelligence, or security services. As
a result, the restrictions on certain transactions in the new Cuba policy will not limit the
ability to send or receive authorized remittances.

9. How does the new policy impact other authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction?
The new policy will not result in changes to the other (non-individual people-to-people)
authorizations for travel.  Following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted.  Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

10. How will the new policy impact existing OFAC specific licenses?
The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect existing
contracts and licenses.

11. How will U.S. companies know if their Cuban counterpart is affiliated with a
prohibited entity or sub-entity in Cuba?
The State Department will be publishing a list of entities with which direct transactions
generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new
regulations. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are
issued.

12. Is authorized travel by cruise ship or passenger vessel to Cuba impacted by the new Cuba policy?
Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will still be able to engage in authorized travel to
Cuba by cruise ship or passenger vessel.  Following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

For more information on the National Security Presidential Memorandum visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/16/fact-sheet-cuba-policy.

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