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A Brief History of Cuba

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
The Cuba Issue, May/Jun 99

(continued from page 1)

Castro married the island's economic fortunes to sugar production and trade with the Soviet Union, which heavily subsidized the Cuban government. When the Soviet empire began to collapse in 1989, so did Cuba's economy. In a bid to attract U.S. dollars, Cuba has started shoring up its fallow tourist industry in recent years. But, while the Clinton Administration has made some nods toward easing strained relations, the embargo against Cuba remains. --Jack Bettridge

 

GETTING THERE
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, anyone subject to U.S. jurisdiction must have a license from the Treasury "to engage in any transactions related to travel to, from, and within Cuba." In general, only three groups qualify: government officials, journalists, and those "with extreme need" to visit family members in Cuba. License requests by members of other groups, such as academic, cultural and religious organizations, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

For the rest of Americans, it is illegal to travel to Cuba--from the United States or any other country. That said, there are tens of thousands who each year make the trip via third countries, most commonly Canada, the Bahamas and Mexico. (Cuban customs does not stamp American passports.)

If you do go and are caught by U.S. Customs, you could be charged with violating the Trading with the Enemy Act, with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. The reality, however, is that prosecuting American tourists is not high on the U.S. government's list of priorities.


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