Caribbean, Citizen Diplomacy, Education, Latin America, Reality Tours Blog

New Cuba Travel Regulations Set Back: What They Are, What They Mean

Photo Credit Global Exchange

New regulations by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regarding legal travel to Cuba were released in July that contain a number of new guidelines and directives for organizations that are licensed to provide travel to Cuba, including Global Exchange.

While these new regulations are leaving people confused and unclear about what this means for future educational travel to Cuba, Global Exchange along with many other organizations are thoroughly reviewing the regulations so as to be in compliance.

So why are OFAC’s new guidelines problematic?  As Anya Landau French, Director of the New America Foundation’s U.S. – Cuba Policy Initiative and the editor of The Havana Note explains:

Restricting contacts in the first place is a bad idea, but this sort of ‘Big Brother is watching’ approach to people to people engagement is counterproductive (and more than a little ironic). Providing a full itinerary, explaining how contacts with the government helps to make people more independent of the government, and so on, is an odd way to try to open up what many consider a closed society. And therein lies the problem: the objective of such travel is to open up Cuba, instead of to foster mutual understanding, a principle that should stand on its own. In this way, the Obama administration has backed itself into a policy corner.

Ellen Creager of the Detroit Free Press also offers us a critical look at the challenges that may lie ahead despite the few positive changes that have come in the last year.

While here at Global Exchange we continue to review these new regulations, the Cuba section of our Reality Tours website will be “under construction.” Please feel welcome to contact us should you have questions, since we do retain our license as an authorized Travel Service Provider to Cuba.


  1. Direct OFAC and the State Department to carry out President Obama’s Cuba policy – Sign this petition!
  2. Keep updated about Cuba travel regulations, subscribe to our Reality Tours blog and sign up for the Reality Tours email list to receive regular updates.



  1. Anya was writing about the impact of OFAC’s May revision of guidelines for purposeful travel, including people to people. The problems facing Global Exchange and other TSPs are contained in the document you reference of July. In any case the obstructive spirit is the same.

    The problem is political and the solution is political. All purposeful travel must receive a general license and the category of Travel Service Provider must be done away with.

    A petition to that effect has been launched but more important is how pressure is brought during the campaign on Obama and his surrogates as these are steps completely within the President’s power. If Romney wins, everything goes down the tubes.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  2. Drea

    Thank you for your feedback John and for your continued work around the Right to Travel to Cuba.

    We hope that everyone who reads this will take action as well as share this important issue far and wide!

  3. S

    Please search and see that you want your kids to be able to see where Hemingway wrote in Cuba Mr. President!

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