Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
More entities receive licenses for tours in Cuba
Once this election season is over I look forward to returning to reporting from Cuba on what’s new, what’s hot, etc.
Meanwhile, with the presidential election just one month away, currently—as ever with Cuba—it’s all about politics.
This year has been a real roller-coaster when it comes to issues of U.S. regulations regarding freedom to travel to Cuba, with the adrenalin-charged thrill of the downhill ride (read: easing of restrictions) tempered by the inevitable uphill braking (read: reinstitution of obstacles courtesy of arch anti-Castro Republican congressional representatives; for a concise explanation, see Cuba Central's recent blog post "On the Freedom to Travel").
Thus, last month it became apparent that OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) was holding up applications for licenses and renewal of licenses (which are good for 12 months) by companies wishing to take U.S. citizens to Cuba on “people-to-people” (P2P) exchange programs. Any and every U.S. citizen is eligible to travel to Cuba as a participant in P2P programs.
Ellen Craeger explained the scenario in her excellent piece in the Detroit Free Press.
This past week we learned (from Laura Bly in USA Today) that the log-jam may have been relieved and that OFAC is once again adhering to the spirit of the law as intended by President Obama when he reinstated the Clinton-era P2P provision.
Several companies and non-profit foundations last week received the green light, including the Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FRD), which had been denied on six previous applications. And one company was issued a license good for 24 months—truly a rare event!
As FRD founder John McAuliffe explains: “OFAC's turnaround is tremendously important. Perhaps someone from the [Obama] administration made it clear that OFAC was responsible to the President's vision not the efforts of Sen. [Marco] Rubio, et. al. to sabotage them. The many news articles in mass media and travel trade publications, the widespread sense of outrage, the on-line petitions and the concern expressed by House and Senate staff directly to OFAC no doubt contributed to the decision.”
Now I’m hopeful that National Geographic Expeditions will soon be notified that its request for renewal has been approved (its previous license expired in August), and that this winter or coming spring I’ll see you on one of the company's “Cuba: Discovering its People and Culture” tours, which I lead.
Meanwhile, motorcyclists can join me on a one-of-a-kind 10- or 15-day motorcycle tour of Cuba this winter with Texas-based MotoDiscovery.
And stay tuned for a special music-themed tour of Cuba that I am putting together, and will be escorting next spring, with my friend and musical impresario Dr. Vanessa Sheldon, a renowned harpist and Dean of Arts & Humanities at the newly launched World Education University.
So join me this year in Cuba!
Now that you’re ready to travel to Cuba, buy Moon Handbook Cuba
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker