American Tour Operators condemn US Obstacles to travel to Cuba
Several US travel agencies have reported bureaucratic obstacles implemented by the US government to renew their licenses and prevent them from organizing tours and trips to Cuba, suffering for over half a century from US economic, commercial and financial blockade and embargo.
Havana, Cuba / NationalTurk – The travel agencies and tour operators mentioned that in the past few months in 2012, delays in processing the travel and tour organization permits have taken longer, causing cancellation of flights to Cuba, layoffs and financial losses.
Bob Guild, Vice President of Marazul Charters Inc which organized exchanges and charter flights to Cuba, says : ‘ Everything is almost paralyzed since July 1st.’
Last May, the US Treasury Department tighten its thorough supervision of visits to the Communist Island of Cuba and declared that a violation of restrictions would mean 65,000 USD fines and even the suspension of travel agency licenses.
David Harvell from the New York-based Cuban Studies Center expresses : ‘ Basically we have to argue that each minute of each day constitutes a person-to-person contact, which is the only type of contact allowed under current regulations.’
Cuba travel : Harder than ever
His Cuba travel organization had to suspend six already scheduled trips to Cuba due to the application to renew the agency license is still incomplete and it has hundreds of pages.
The Cuba tour operators regard these obstacles as a response to the agreement reached by the White House with Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is known for his extremist positions against Havana administration, to impose more strict control to their companies, more revision of itineraries and the program in general.
On this regard, Tom Popper, Director of Insight Cuba, states that for this reason his company had to lay off 22 employees, losing millions of dollars, and more than 150 scheduled trips to Cuba are likely to be cancelled in the next year because the authorization by US offices he needs is not available yet.
US Treasury Department’s spokespersons confirmed to press organizations that these regulation measures ban recreational excursions and tourist-related financial transactions related with Cuba.
Those measures apply to US citizens with no family link with Cubans and from now on those applying for licenses must explain why they need to meet with high ranking Cuban officials.
The blockade against Cuba has meant over 957 billion USD in overall damage and losses and is in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
JG: Do not patronize Barack Obama with your vote on November 6th.