Note to Treasury: Tourism to Cuba is Against U.S. Law

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Can someone explain how elitist art patrons -- paying $8,000 per person -- to cruise Cuban ports is not tourism?

Moreover, how this helps "promote the [Cuban people's] independence from the authorities," which is the stated purpose of the Obama Administration's "people-to-people" trips?

Also, since when are foreign cruise ships "authorized Cuba travel providers"?

And whom does this trip benefit?  Other than the Cuban military's Cimex and Cubanacan corporations, which own and operate all of the island's cruise facilities and which, last we checked, were on Treasury's "specially designated nationals" list.

As a reminder, according to Section 910 of the 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA):

PROHIBITION ON TRAVEL RELATING TO TOURIST ACTIVITIES-

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, the Secretary of the Treasury, or any other Federal official, may not authorize the travel-related transactions listed in paragraph (c) of section 515.560 of title 31, Code of Federal Regulations, either by a general license or on a case-by-case basis by a specific license for travel to, from, or within Cuba for tourist activities.

How is this not a tourist activity?

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art just posted a trip, “Havana and Beyond Aboard Sea Spirit” on two dates -- April 5-15 and April 15-25 -- that has a twist not seen before in fledgling U.S.-Cuba tourism ventures.

Not only does it provide the “people to people” itinerary allowed by the U.S. government since 2011, it features a small ship cruise. Travelers will board the Sea Spirit in Montego Bay, Jamaica, then sail to various ports in Cuba such as Maria la Gorda, Isla de la Juventud, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Camag├╝ey, Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

The trip starts at $7,995 per person.