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Netopr

Support for the Cuban people, be prepared

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Very interesting post!!! We are going to Cuba in October and I work for an international hospitality company that has a hotel in Cuba. This particular hotel is listed in the "Do not go" list! I was hoping to do a site inspection of the hotel when originally decided to go to Cuba, but I guess now that I know the hotel is "black listed" I cant! Does anyone knows why are these establishments on this list and if there is any "exceptions" like working for the company that represents this particular hotel in Europe? I live in the States so that might be taken into consideration and "black-ball" me too!!! LOL

 

 

 

Check out the US Department of State page for more details about the list of restricted establishments in Cuba.

 

In theory, the Dept of State created this list to alert US citizens about establishments that are owned and/or operated by the Cuban Government or Military. The reason behind the restriction is because any money spent at these establishments directly benefits the Cuban regime, their military, and intelligence. Frequenting these establishments (more specifically, spending money there), take revenue away from private business owners and tour operators.

 

Keep in mind that US Citizens traveling under the “Support for the Cuban People” visa are granted permission to travel to Cuba by signing a Travel Certification Form where they agree to spend their money directly with the Cuban people, not gubernatorial or military entities, so ignoring the list would constitute a violation of the conditions that they agreed to.

 

With all of that said, chances that someone will come after you if you set foot or spend money at one of these establishments are extremely low, so I wouldn’t sweat it much. I’m sure that many US travelers walk into Cuban government operated businesses every day and don’t even realize it unless they carry a list with them.

 

When we sailed to Cuba, I saw many cruisers walking into Hotel Ambos Mundos (on the restricted list) and I can assure you that none of them had a clue about the restriction. I also ordered a “Coke” at a paladar and I was served a “Tropicola”. Later on I found out that the company that makes this drink is also on the restricted list. So even if you have the best intention to abide by the list and avoid any Cuban government entity, it’s hard to fully succeed unless you throughly research and check the list every time you take your wallet out.

 

 

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We just came back from the cruise and we had an amazing time, specially in Cuba, its so different than anything else. We took a tour operated by a cuban young woman (Duramis) and she spoke english very well. She knew about the “Support for the Cuban People” category and she designed our two day tour to meet this category. If anyone wants her information (email) send me a message. Just by taking her tour, we are supporting the cuban people and not the state.

 

We visited fusterlandia, 2 private paladares for lunch (1 ea day), old havana, the cuban Christ, el morro, house of cuban people, the capitol, revolucion plaza and a tabaco factory. All in old vehicles from the 50’s that had Air Conditioning.

 

Dont let RCI scare you that you cant use the support for the cuban people category, that is illegal, by law you can go with this category with no pre approval. We didnt have to provide an itinerary anywhere.

 

Could you email me the info on the tour, thanks George.

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We were advised not to go to the Hotel Nacional because of the sonic attacks. Still visited there. Beautiful place. Had no problems.

 

 

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Just returned from Cuba (Aug 2018). In HAVANA,, No problems at all getting the Visa at boarding by filing out Support the People check box on the form. Getting off in Cuba was same as everyone else who were on ship tour. We took Havana journeys and had a car, driver, and guide for 8 hours for about $150. Just 2 of us. You can pick out what you want to see, how long you stay, etc. Their info and web site is very good - meet directly across from the dock at on of the statues on the San Francisco square. Our guide was better last year, this time not as personable. Tip: If you can, take Canadian $ or Euros to get your Cuba money or you will pay a 10% surcharge for US $.

 

In CIENFUGEOUS, the disembarkation is much the same. We use a guide called Hector - see info for him on other (trip .. adviser) sites. Here, you need to turn Left once past customs (away from ship tour buses) and out the gate. Private guides need to wait outside the "pedestrian gate", toward the end of the block. He can hire a car or use taxis to get you where you want to go. Very nice middle aged man. Start early to avoid the heat and beat the crowds to the main tourist locations. Hector took us to the very nice restaurant with A/C and good selection of food. They took US $$ at $.95 for 1 Cuban CUC (a very good rate), if you do not have enough Cuban. This is a tender dock, so try to get on an early tender to beat the immigration lines - which actually do move fairly fast anyway..

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SAPMAN, was your cruise with Carnival on the Paradise? We will be cruising on the Paradise in April. Thanks for your help.

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I know this post is 8 months old, but looking for details with Duramis info (from Netopr's post), or any other personal experience with a great private tour. My wife and I will be sailing on RCI, any new info on the "Support for the Cuban People" category? Also, for those who have done private tours, could you share the places you visited while in Havana?

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2 hours ago, Houndfish said:

What constitutes Full Time under OFAC?

 

No one really knows.  The cruise lines will tell you that if you take a tour with them, you've met the requirements.  I've also read promotions that stated if you take a tour one day, you can go off on your own the next.  The truth is that it doesn't matter one iota what you do.  No one is following you and documenting what you do.  The Cubans couldn't care less, and it's not like the U.S. Government has spies wandering around Havana trying to catch and report a tourist who isn't following the letter of the law.  You're also not going to audited by the Government and asked to produce documentation 5 years from now.  Your chances of getting struck by lightning are significantly greater.  If by some miracle, they did decide to audit Mr. and Mrs. Houndfish out of the millions of U.S. tourists who visited Cuba, just type up an itinerary at that point and tell them that's what you did.  All transactions are in cash, so there is no paper trail for them to question.

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On 8/18/2018 at 7:18 PM, 316tarheel said:

We were advised not to go to the Hotel Nacional because of the sonic attacks. Still visited there. Beautiful place. Had no problems.

 

 

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That is a simple excuse to try to keep tourists away from all the top sites owned by the government...including the National Hotel.

 

 

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43 minutes ago, FredZiffle said:

 

No one really knows.  The cruise lines will tell you that if you take a tour with them, you've met the requirements.  I've also read promotions that stated if you take a tour one day, you can go off on your own the next.  The truth is that it doesn't matter one iota what you do.  No one is following you and documenting what you do.  The Cubans couldn't care less, and it's not like the U.S. Government has spies wandering around Havana trying to catch and report a tourist who isn't following the letter of the law.  You're also not going to audited by the Government and asked to produce documentation 5 years from now.  Your chances of getting struck by lightning are significantly greater.  If by some miracle, they did decide to audit Mr. and Mrs. Houndfish out of the millions of U.S. tourists who visited Cuba, just type up an itinerary at that point and tell them that's what you did.  All transactions are in cash, so there is no paper trail for them to question.

Great reply. What do you think cruise line does with the visa apps? Turn them over to treasury or shred them. Last year Cuba did not stamp my passport.

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1 hour ago, Houndfish said:

Great reply. What do you think cruise line does with the visa apps? Turn them over to treasury or shred them. Last year Cuba did not stamp my passport.

The Visas applications go through the Cuban embassy.  Our government never sees them.  Or, do you mean the affidavits?  That's a good question.  I would guess that they are turned in the Government since it really would be ridiculous to require everyone to fill them out, but then not require that they be turned in.  That would truly show how unimportant they actually are.

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I think we need to find out what the cruise line does with the forms. An insider could tell us.

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I think they just file them just like we do in case of audit.

 

We just got back, and really you can do whatever you want when you get there.

 

We complied with one of their approved tours per day and did what we wanted the rest of the time.

 

Had all the same concerns as everyone else before the trip, which turned out to be a nothingburger.

 

Let's hope today's announcement doesn't kill it all.

 

 

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This entire time people have been blowing off the possibility of getting audited. I've always that it a possibility, and today even more so. I fully expect to get some kind of notice in the mail asking for documentation in the next couple years. I also fully expect the the auditor may have a different definition of "Support for the Cuban People" than I do, regardless of what I send then. But I always figured that was a risk I was willing to take. Who knows, in 2 years we may have a new administration and an entire new set of rules. Whatever happens, happens. I know that we supported the Cuban people by our supporting capitalism, as well as by our donation of school supplies to a school in need of them. I believe we fulfilled the spirit of that category and feel good about it. If they try to fine me, well I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.

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On 7/2/2018 at 2:59 PM, Magnetchief said:

Following advice on here we left the selections blank and checked the box they told us too.

We could not be bothered to argue the point with them.

We had assumed box 4, they told us to check box 2.

Box checked and on we went.

Did we keep a copy? Hell no.

That is what I'm doing.i don't care.im there to visit and not support any one.im not a social justice warrior.my wife tries to be but she isn't the sharpest tool in the shed either.im not arguing over some b.s..

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On 4/18/2019 at 3:57 PM, 2112 said:

This entire time people have been blowing off the possibility of getting audited. I've always that it a possibility, and today even more so. I fully expect to get some kind of notice in the mail asking for documentation in the next couple years. I also fully expect the the auditor may have a different definition of "Support for the Cuban People" than I do, regardless of what I send then. But I always figured that was a risk I was willing to take. Who knows, in 2 years we may have a new administration and an entire new set of rules. Whatever happens, happens. I know that we supported the Cuban people by our supporting capitalism, as well as by our donation of school supplies to a school in need of them. I believe we fulfilled the spirit of that category and feel good about it. If they try to fine me, well I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.

Did you actually visit a school to take your supplies or give them to someone to take?  I am going in June with four other teachers and have been filling backpacks with school supplies.  I have asked our local guide (Blexie tours) if we can visit  a school.  Hopefully that is still possible. 

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8 hours ago, Cruiser24 said:

Did you actually visit a school to take your supplies or give them to someone to take?  I am going in June with four other teachers and have been filling backpacks with school supplies.  I have asked our local guide (Blexie tours) if we can visit  a school.  Hopefully that is still possible. 

Yes, we visited a school. It was called La Casa de Beneficencia y Maternidad, a preschool and kindergarten run by Catholic nuns.  This place used to be an orphanage during colonial times.  It is very close to the port. They were very appreciative and the children sang us some songs.

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On 5/11/2019 at 9:52 PM, 2112 said:

Yes, we visited a school. It was called La Casa de Beneficencia y Maternidad, a preschool and kindergarten run by Catholic nuns.  This place used to be an orphanage during colonial times.  It is very close to the port. They were very appreciative and the children sang us some songs.

Thank you.  I’ll suggest that to our guide.

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On 4/18/2019 at 4:13 AM, FredZiffle said:

 

No one really knows.  The cruise lines will tell you that if you take a tour with them, you've met the requirements.  I've also read promotions that stated if you take a tour one day, you can go off on your own the next.  

OFAC do actually explain how it works.  That is, spend more time on compliant activities than non-compliant activities.

OFAC cannot require an itinerary under Support for the Cuban People, but they can ask for a record of your transactions.

So yes, under SFTCP you can pretty well do as you please.

On 4/18/2019 at 6:55 AM, FredZiffle said:

Or, do you mean the affidavits?  That's a good question.  I would guess that they are turned in the Government since it really would be ridiculous to require everyone to fill them out, but then not require that they be turned in.  That would truly show how unimportant they actually are.

Well, the government never sees them as the  requirement is for the parties to keep copies, and have them available upon request.  They really are not important right now.

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US National Security Adviser John Bolton said a few weeks ago that "the plan is for further regulatory changes to restrict nonfamily travel to Cuba ". That received wide coverage in Cuba, as was  the sharp reduction in allowable remittances that would be permitted.

 

In my opinion, it would be foolish to assume that the stick will not be used at some point.

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22 hours ago, Cienfuegos said:

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said a few weeks ago that "the plan is for further regulatory changes to restrict nonfamily travel to Cuba ". That received wide coverage in Cuba, as was  the sharp reduction in allowable remittances that would be permitted.

In my opinion, it would be foolish to assume that the stick will not be used at some point.

Anything is possible, but the USA is for more concerned with China, Iran, North Korea and a very long list of other countries before worrying about Cuba.

Also, past regulatory changes have not been regressive, so people with booked travel are not likely to be affected.

Perhaps more importantly, it's an economic embargo on Cuba, so restricting travel to Cuba will continue to be fraught with regulatory loopholes that tourism operators will be able to work around.

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