The Trump Administration is dragging us into the past with their restrictions on Americans who want to travel to Cuba. They are an affront to all Americans who cherish the right to travel and associate freely with peaceful people everywhere on the planet. And they are proving devastating to the Cuban people.

The Administration’s rollbacks can be seen as a return to a tried-and-failed U.S. strategy: facilitate regime change by strangling the Cuban economy to undermine Cuban leadership. This policy hasn’t worked over the last 60 years, and it won’t work moving forward. The loss of visitors has put a tremendous strain on economic growth and ultimately hurts the Cuban people. Tourism is Cuba’s third largest source of income and is considered central to Cuba’s economic development.

Despite recent changes, Global Exchange’s ability to organize travel remains legal. Global Exchange has fought for the right to freely travel for over 30 years. Traveling to Cuba shows support for the Cuban people. It is not only a great travel experience, but it is an important opportunity to take action and strengthen our people-to-people ties with our island neighbors.

Join us this spring on our Cuba: Flora and Fauna tour – one of our favorites.  You will meet with birding, botany and marine specialists to explore one of the most biologically dense and diverse islands in the Caribbean! Explore Havana’s largest organic urban garden, the orchid gardens of Soroa, protected wetlands in the Zapata National park and footpaths through evergreen and semi-deciduous forest which offer excellent opportunities to view around 800 species of plants and well over 100 bird species. You’ll meet with urban and rural Cuban farmers, tobacco growers and environmental conservationists. We’ll visit several of the island’s national parks and UNESCO heritage sites, all while learning about Cuba’s history and culture.

We invite you to travel with us, demonstrate your solidarity with the Cuba people,  and stand up against Trump’s rollback on U.S./Cuba relations.



We must respond to Trump’s military build up, continued funding of repression abroad and consolidated war cabinet with a surge of people-to-people solidarity across borders. While U.S. formal diplomatic communications are signaling hostility and intolerance, we, as private citizens, can instead build relationships, enhance mutual understanding, and build trust between people.

This is the purpose of Global Exchange’s Citizen Diplomacy Delegations.

Your voice carries more weight than ever before in determining foreign affairs. A sprawling network of global coalitions, partnerships and initiatives undertaken by cities, NGOs, universities, foundations, businesses, and determined individuals are gaining traction. And history has shown that when statesmen are at dangerous impasses, a connected civil society can make a difference in lessening tensions and averting war. Your voice is needed now more than ever.

Please consider joining us in:

Iran; As President Trump threatens to abandon the hard won Iran Nuclear Deal. Through visiting cultural and historical sites like the beautiful Golestan Palace, the tomb of Hafez, Zoroastrian fire temples, the bridges of Isfahan and bustling bazaars and gardens, we’ll have the chance to engage with Iranians as they go about their daily lives.

Cuba; As Trump backtracks on Obama’s sensible policy of engagement, which is hurting the Cuban people. Join us as we meet with Cuban urban planners, economists, doctors, teachers, students, artists, and others to learn about the triumphs and challenges of the 60 year old Cuban revolution as well as the current historic changes underway (like the recent leadership transition from Raúl Castro to Miguel Díaz-Canel).

Palestine; As the U.S. continues to back Israel’s crippling occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Our delegations connect with Palestinians working at the grassroots level for peace, justice and human rights. We’ll learn about the impact of occupation on economic, cultural, and urban development as well as access to scarce resources like land and water. We’ll also learn about the creative ways Palestinians have organized in resistance, from building viable local economies through fair trade cooperatives to addressing politically imposed water scarcity with hydroponic production.

Afghanistan; As Trump presses ahead with an open-ended military commitment after almost two decades of war.  We will meet with Afghan women, grassroots organizations, students, human rights activists, and others working to rebuild from a history of conflict. We’ll visit demining projects, schools, vocational training centers, micro-financing projects, and more.

We hope you’ll join us in building a connected global civil society dedicated to a peaceful and just future for all!

In celebrating our 25 year commitment of solidarity with the Cuban people and our Reality Tours to Cuba, we recognize and appreciate the hundreds of letters and report backs we’ve received from our participants!  Today we hi-light a story from Bob Hoffert of Fort Collins, Colorado.  Bob gives us a glimpse into what many Cubans call “the island of contradictions.”

From Saturday, March 14, 2015 until Sunday, March 22, 2015 I was in Cuba. It was an experience that encourages intense reactions in me more than measured assessments.

My preference would be to offer an organic, integrated account of Cuba because that probably would be a more appropriate representation of Cuba itself.   However, what I can share are glimpses, perspectives, components – not something holistic.

Yes, Cuba was like entering a time capsule, but what you can express in words doesn’t always coincide with the vitality of your senses. The preponderance of 1950s era American cars, the inaccessibility of the web or ATMs, the largely invisible status of cell phones, the uselessness of credit/debit cards, the miniscule presence of anything that resembles a conventional “store”, the cluelessness of where you’d get a hammer or underwear or matches, the absence of fast food or fast anything coalesce into a world more disorienting than merely different. If you’re looking for what’s familiar, stay home.

I also had no sense of the precariousness of Havana’s treasures. There is significant evidence of restoration work throughout the city, but deterioration appears to be outpacing restoration. According to one knowledgeable source, an average of three buildings a day collapse throughout the city. And please do not simplistically displace this condition on Cuban socialism. A poor country, blessed with such a rich structural heritage, but saddled with a brutally punishing blockade can only respond within the possibilities of its capacity.

photo by Drea Hightower

I expected art, music, and dance in Cuba to be vibrant. It was! But there was no way I could have anticipated the excitement of walking down a dark narrow street late at night as the passion of a Cuban band possesses your ears and defines your world. In Pinar del Rio we were escorted down an unlit street guided only by pounding music, we were entertained by neighborhood children singing and dancing, and we ended the evening dancing in the street with 40 to 50 people from the local CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution). A reclaimed dump in eastern Havana was the site of a community arts project – painting, sculpture, dance, and music. On the western side of the city we visited another community arts project built around the spirit and practice of Santeria. In all these cases, the reality far exceeded my expectations.

I expected a significant amount of political propaganda and clear evidence of a regimented society. At least relative to my expectations, this is not what I found. What was most notable was not how much public propaganda there was, but how little. What I can say is that I saw a joyful people, an expressive people, a proud and loyal people, and a people who appreciate their government and leaders more than many Americans do theirs. I also found a remarkable measure of pragmatism rather than ideological rigidity. For example, we heard numerous times, “we learned to use elements from capitalism to save socialism.” Think about it, can you imagine an American saying; “we learned to use elements of socialism to save capitalism”?!

I expected the U.S. embargo to have a damaging impact on life in Cuba. It does. But somehow that is an insufficient observation. Its consequences most severely punish the exact same group of people who were used and exploited prior to 1959 – the poorest and the most vulnerable.  Has the embargo worked? Yes and No. Yes, it has created great personal and societal pain. Its consequences are powerful and not unrelated to the deterioration of Cuba’s architectural heritage. If these are the purposes of the embargo, it is a great success and has done its job with damaging magnificence. If the embargo’s purpose is to topple Cuban Communism, it is an utter failure. It has deepened solidarity and legitimated the Revolution in the eyes of the people beyond anything the regime could have accomplished on its own.

I too often heard “we are not perfect” from the Cubans we met. Surely they are not and perhaps that statement is too often used as an excuse for doing little or for not doing better. That is their burden and challenge. It is our burden and challenge to not allow our dominating power to blind us from respecting an exquisitely unique place with a vision of a different way to build their society and serve their people. It does not require our agreement or approval. It does require our honoring the self-determination principles for others we so insistently cherish for ourselves.

Cuba was, for me, a revelation and a joy.

Bob Hoffert

Please visit our website for more information on opportunities to travel with us to Cuba!

mainFurthering the media frenzy following Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent People-to-People cultural exchange to Cuba, a conversation has sprung up about travel to Cuba, through recorded and remixed lyrical songs.

Jay-Z started off with the first track “Open Letter.” In this freestyle rap, Jay-Z responds to some of the criticisms of the trip: “politicians never did sh-t for me/except lie to me, distort history.” In regards to the “legality” of traveling to Cuba he responds: “wanna give me jail time and a fine/Fine, let me commit a real crime.” Artist Common later contributed to a remix of the Jay-Z track, speaking to the political nature of discussion about Cuba, calling Cuba “a political triangle, Bermuda” and again states “it’s so political, I don’t trust figures.”

Cuban American artist Pitbull also crafted a response. While professing many sentiments common to the Miami anti-Castro establishment, such as hoping for a “free” Cuba, Pitbull also states: “I ain’t here to hold a grudge,” and tells Jay-Z and Beyonce not to worry about the trip, saying “it’s on me.”

Cuban Rap and R&B artist Danay Suarez

Cuban Rap and R&B artist Danay Suarez.

Importantly, Havana born Cuban artists Danay Suarez and Kokino also responded, speaking to their experiences as Cubans who have grown up on the island. Danay paints the Cuba she knows in complex terms where Cubans are “victimas de una libertad incompleta/victims of an incomplete liberty” and there are “millones de profesionales sin gloria/millions of professionals without glory.” She also sings that Havana is a very special place, “hay pocos sitios como la habana, se hace contacto directo con las personas/there are few places like Havana, where you make direct contact with the people,” and is “mi lugar preferido/my favorite place.”

Cuban rap artist Kokino. Photo by Tom Ehrlich.

Cuban rap artist Kokino. Photo by Tom Ehrlich.

Kokino takes on a fairly aggressive stance, criticizing Pitbull and by extension the Miami establishment, claiming “tu no has hecho nada para los cubanos/you haven’t done anything for Cubans.” He also expresses the sentiment that to understand Cuba, one must live the experience: “hay que estar presente/vivir donde vivimos/estar en la caliente/con apagones, con mas dolores,” translated as “one has to be present/live where we live/be in the heat/with the electricity blackouts, with the pain.” While acknowledging hardships in Cuba, Kokino expresses his own style of patriotism as well, saying “yo vine a comerme yuma/el yuma no me va a comer a mi,” translated as “I came to eat the U.S./the U.S. is not going to eat me.”

While the artists have different backgrounds and perspectives in regards to Cuba, common themes emerge. First, none of the artists, including the more conservative Pitbull, question the validity of traveling to Cuba or see it as an act that should be illegal as Miami hardliners would like to maintain. They also reference the role of politics in distorting U.S.-Cuba relations and in influencing representations of Cuba in the U.S. media. Ultimately, the media attention given to the trip and the commentary and questions raised by these artists allow the Cuba dialogue to move beyond the choir and to the general public. Together, we can amplify this conversation and make sure our voices are heard to demand a more sane and just policy towards Cuba! Will you help us spread the word?

Take-ActionTake Action!

Help us tell Beyonce, Jay-Z, and others with influence to join us, the people, in asking President Obama to end the embargo, lift the travel ban, and get Cuba off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Share this post widely in your community by email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Vaya! A l o Cubano

Many of our  Reality Tours Cuba  alumni will remember Karen McCartney. Karen lived in Cuba for years and regularly facilitated Global Exchange groups. Today Karen shares one of her memories about Cuban chivichanas while leading a Reality Tour trip we used to call “Following Che’s Footsteps”. 

Chivichanas in Cuba: Tour Facilitator Karen McCartney Shares her Story by Karen McCartney

Elizardo, the ICAP represententative takes the microphone from our driver and turns to face our tour participants:

“Where we are going today is historic, for it was here, in the heart of the Sierra Maestra mountains, that President Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl, Che Guevara and their band of guerrilla fighters waged the battle that brought down the dictatorship of Fulgencia Batista and ushered in the Revolution. That was back in 1959. It took them three years to succeed and we are going to take this opportunity to retrace their steps. We’ll go into the mountains and see their headquarters for ourselves.“

Looking out at the Hotel Nacional, Havana

Just then our driver, Juancito, calls Elizardo over to him. They confer for a minute or so. From the concerned looks on their faces it is apparent that something is wrong. They beckon to me and Diana. It turns out that our coach is an older model and Juancito is doubtful about its ability to climb the hills that lie between us and our hotel in the tiny mountain village of Santo Domingo. We stop at the base of the steepest hill I have ever seen. Someone a few seats behind me mutters that the gradient would be illegal in the United States.

“What we really need is a fifth gear for the ascent and hydraulic brakes for the descent. Our coach has neither,” whispers Juancito.

“So what do you recommend?”

He looks up at me apologetically.


We agree to let Juancito drive on at his own pace and for us to follow on foot. It will take a couple of hours longer but it’s safe. The students are elated at the prospect of getting out of their seats and eagerly rush toward the exit.

Joining in the Dance at Love and Hope, Pinar del Rio

All twenty-five of us set off, walking on occasions at an angle of what must be about 65º to the perpendicular tilt of the road. The landscape is undoubtedly the most magnificent that I’ve seen so far in Cuba. Lush vegetation springs from sheer drops, and abrupt upward sweeps arrest the gaze and guide it skyward into the clouds. The sky is shrunk, framed by verdant peaks. I too am shrunk, made delightfully small, humbled by the power of these mountains. I remind myself that I am in the east of Cuba, somewhere between the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by topography which has not changed in millennia. All of us are quiet now, content to pay homage to the moment, knowing that it will never come again. Around us there is birdsong, insistent calls produced by exotic creatures I cannot see and cannot name.

An ugly clattering, suggestive of metal colliding with concrete, intrudes on my reverie. It is getting louder, faster, and it’s coming toward us. From around the bend – at speed – comes a chivichana, a guider steered by an elderly campesino, his face frozen into a grimace. G-force, or perhaps the immensity of effort required to keep his vehicle under control at such speed? It’s not clear. Both hands are on the reins, pulling hard now, and his heels slam against the front wheels, jamming them to a halt a few metres away. Mules and home-made guiders are the most common forms of transport in the Sierra. The students are already gathering around enthusiastically. I stay back, content to watch and let the encounter develop under its own dynamics. A few words are exchanged in broken Spanish between the wizened, bright-eyed sprightly driver and his admirers.

“Qué lindo. What a beautiful guider. Did you make it yourself? What speed do you go? Is it dangerous?”

And then, inevitably,

Delegates Laughing with Cuban Architect, Miguel Coyula

“Would you mind if we take a few photos?

Photos taken, the students give the old man the thumbs up and he manoeuvres his chivichana into position to continue its downward journey. Just as he is about to lift his heels from the front wheels one of the group calls out to him,

“Señor! Señor! Por favor.”

We turn our heads to see Jeremy, one of the quieter boys, hoist a bottle of Havana Club rum on high,

“Muchas gracias!”

And then he tosses it with a long slow motion to the old man who catches the bottle in a single deft sweep of the hand. Only a talented baseball player would have been capable of such elegance, and the group applauds. Then he is gone in a flash, followed by a rapidly retreating commotion that can be heard echoing through the mountains for a minute or two after we have lost sight of him. We see more chivichanas over the next few days; sometimes they are little more than a blur as the locals power down these slopes at breakneck speed on this most unique form of transport.

Living Inside the Revolution, An Irish Woman in Cuba. Book by Karen McCartney

To see more of Karen’s impressions please see  her blog. If you want to create a memory of your own,  learn more about the US Embargo against Cuba, or explore Cuban culture and history join us on a Reality Tour today. 


Cuban School Children

Since 1989, Global Exchange has played a leading role in the national campaign to normalize relations with Cuba our Caribbean neighbor. Our primary goals are:

-End the U.S. blockade of Cuba

-End travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba

-Get Cuba removed from the U.S. list of “potential terrorist countries”

-Support and learn from Cuba’s struggles and successes in achieving sustainable development.

To this end Global Exchange organizes Reality Tours to Cuba. Learn more about how to travel to Cuba here.

Take action and support The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5’s call to solidarity organizations and friends in the United States to support ‘5 consecutive days of freedom for the Cuban 5′, April 17-21 in Washington DC. Action in DC will include a demonstration and lobbying efforts, and thousands of ‘Obama, Give Me Five’ posters will be placed throughout the city.

Obama... Give me five!

Background on the Cuban 5: They are Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Rene González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort and in 1998, they were imprisoned in the United States. Danny Glover explains their case here in Danny Glover on the Five.

For a more detailed account of their case, read here. Also, check out the documentary called, ‘Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?

Past Reality Tours participant Bill Patterson wrote this reflection on the changes that Fidel’s revolution brought to Cuba. For more information read here.


Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruiz

By Bill Patterson

Cuba, after half a century of our country’s less than benevolent despotism was a small, plundered shell of a nation controlled by bloody handed President-dictator Fulgencio Batista, United States financial interests and the Mafia gambling structure. Over one-half of the 6,500,000 population lived in slums without electricity or sanitation. There were over 600,000 workers unemployed. Over 70% of the children had no teachers. Illiteracy was 37.5%. United States financial interests owned or controlled 80% of farm land, power generating companies, telephone services and banking interests, In the 1950-1960 decade the balance of payments favored U.S. interests by one billion dollars!

Cuban Doctor

When Fidel’s revolution triumphed in 1959 other militant rebel groups faded, including the Communist Party with which he later united. Victorious Fidel fit the classic description of a multi-talented Renaissance Man. Famed as a military conqueror, he was a skilled head of state, athlete, educator and humanitarian. While traditional Western governments might scoff at the unconventional Latin leader, none duplicated his generosity in nationalizing his family’s 25,000 acre ranch property!

Smarting financially from U.S. industries’ financial losses our government chose to militarily reverse Cuba’s political independence. Cubans defeated the counter-revolutionary army at the Bay of Pigs with surprising ease, capturing thousands of mercenaries.

Our CIA attempted eight highly imaginative attempts to assassinate Fidel. It’s efforts to destabilize fragile Cuba included 5,780 acts of sabotage, terrorism and subversion between January and August in 1962. The Cuban Olympic fencing team was destroyed when the CIA downed their aircraft in 1976.

That the world’s strongest nation would label tiny Cuba a terrorist state and impose decades of cruel sanctions is shameful. One wonders if freedom and independence of small Latin countries is tolerable only if financial bondage is demanded and granted.

Sources: First paragraph statistics are from Fidel’s address to the United Nations September 26,1960, reported by Julio Garcia Luis, Dean, U. of Havana, Cuban Revolution Reader. Third paragraph statistics are fromFabian Escalante Font: The Secret War: Covert Operations Against Cuba 1959-62.

Last June I journeyed to one of my favorite destinations on the planet, Cuba. Despite the fact that I have lived and worked there off an on since 1991, and have had the honest pleasure of facilitating over twenty some delegations over the years, this last group was one of my most enjoyable ever. I am not sure really why. We were 13 dynamic, well traveled and inquisitive individuals with only one thing in common…the intrepid travel writer Jeff Greenwald.

I met Jeff in 2003, after he had recently founded, the Ethical Traveler. I  loved the idea of ET and was honored when a few years later he asked me to serve on its advisory board. Since then we’ve been on countless panels together; collaborated on campaigns that mobilize the international community of travelers as a global PAC to use their clout and advocate on important social and ecological justice issues; and promoted “voting with your travel budget” at the World’s Best Ethical Destinations.

Having Fun at the Muraleando Community Arts Project

I remember the day Jeff and I spoke about creating a tour for him and his friends. I felt awestruck. There is so much to see, do and learn. As we brainstormed about an itinerary, he said, “Malia, I want to see your favorite places and meet some of your favorite people”. I smiled and thought, well it will be one trip of many for you then.  I love that personally he trusted me with this challenge and a few months later, our group met in Miami and were off to soak up the sights, sounds and stories of Cuba.  It was wonderful to reconnect with communities and friends from the Mureleando arts project and the intergenerational voices at the Convento de Belen in Havana, to engaging with the teachers, parents and kids at the Love and Hope arts program for children with Down’s Syndrome and advocates for community development and conservation at Las Terrazas in the provinces.  I encourage you to read more about Jeff’s ever thought provoking insights from his “Dispatches from Cuba”. Today, I have the honor to feature a few of Jeff’s thoughts and share the word about his upcoming and yes, second trip back to Cuba.

The Beauty of the Vinales Valley, Pinar del Rio

The trip was a watershed event in my travel career. The country affected me profoundly—just as Nepal did, during my first visit in 1979. The art, music and mojitos were a revelation …. Not to mention Piñar del Rio’s gorgeous landscape, Havana’s neoclassical architecture,  and the warm, generous Cubans we met along the way.

This coming June, I will be leading another trip to the island. It’s called “Exploring Cuba: Sustainable Development, Community & Art,” and will take place June 12th-20th. Though the trip is a benefit for Ethical Traveler, the cost is very reasonable. Like last year’s trip, we’ll meet with social leaders, artists, naturalists and entrepreneurs. We’ll explore spectacular landscapes, and tour World Heritage Sites like Old Havana. Again, this will be a fairly small group — between 12-18 people. This really is a wonderful opportunity to visit a remarkable, fast-changing country. I hope to hear back from you, and promise that this will be a journey to remember (in a good way!!).

Sonrisas en Havana

Learn more about the background of Global Exchange’s  Cuba program and future Reality Tours to Cuba after you have read Jeff’s Dispatches. If you still want to read more, check out more coverage from our Alumni in the news. Recently Stelle Sheller and Janet Young, traveled with us and were featured in their local newspaper in the article, “ Local women travel to Cuba and discover two worlds” and they share  their “unexpected” findings.



Lots going on in Cuba travel news. A few New York Times articles recently covered Cuba travel changes (and Global Exchange!), the Associated Press spoke with Global Exchange’s External Relations Director, and tonight the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations is in Cuba.

For more than 20 years now Global Exchange‘s Reality Tours program has promoted important people to people ties between North Americans and Cubans.  Our professional delegations, exchanges and licensed educational tours are again increasing in number after the Obama Administration eased some of the travel restrictions and authorized eight new U.S. Airports to offer charter flights to Cuba.

Our External Relations Director Malia Everette was recently interviewed by the Associated Press about the increasing demand for “People to People” Cuba tours that Global Exchange is experiencing for the article US issuing licenses for increased Cuba travel.

A recent New York Times article described one Global Exchange Reality Tour to Cuba:

A hot June sun glared over the Arroyo Arenas organic vegetable garden at the edge of Havana where Ms. Slezak, a 68-year-old retired social worker from Long Island, and 16 other Americans were visiting as part of a “food sovereignty” program organized by Global Exchange, a human rights organization, and Food First, a policy institute.

She and the beans were partly shaded by netting slung over the long trough-shaped beds, but it was hot, damp and sticky. She paused now and then to wipe her forehead.

Sweating in a Cuban field is not everyone’s idea of relaxation, and it is a far cry from the decadent gaiety that drew Americans to Havana before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. But trips like this are one way of getting to see Cuba, and have just become accessible to most Americans.

Yet another New York Times article described the travel policy changes taking place:

Thanks to policy changes by President Obama earlier this year designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island, the Treasury Department is once again granting so-called “people-to-people” licenses, which greatly expand travel opportunities for Cuba-bound visitors. The new people-to-people measures make it easier for United States citizens who do not have special status as working journalists or scholars to visit Cuba legally, so long as they go with a licensed operator.

What continues to motivate Global Exchange Reality Tour trips to Cuba is how our participants return inspired by their Cuban counterparts and educated first-hand about the tenacity, ingenuity and integrity of the Cuban people. Yes, Global Exchange is also committed to challenging our government to normalize relations with Cuba, but also to build long term relationships between US and Cuban citizens based on respect and real engagement.

In fact this year, Global Exchange is organizing over 20 delegations and have customized another 30 trips to Cuba thus far!

If you’d like to read some insights shared by a recent Cuba Reality Tour participant check out this article written by Linda Slezak which originally appeared in the Slow Food East End newsletter.

Tonight on the Travel Channel: Anthony Bourdain in Cuba!

The premiere episode of the latest season of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations finds the show in Cuba. Here’s a sneak peek at tonight’s show, this part all about baseball:

Organizations & Institutions: Consider Partnering with Global Exchange
Perhaps you may get inspired tonight after watching the travel channel. As a licensed travel service provider, Global Exchange welcomes working with other organizations and institutions that have their own licenses and would love to develop new partnerships to customize journeys. Email to get started.

Now is THE time to Travel to Cuba!
With new flights recently cleared for lift off, now is the perfect time to plan your trip. We’d love for you to join us on one of our Reality Tours to Cuba.

The best time to go to Cuba? People who have gone on a Global Exchange New Years trip to Cuba come back…different. In a good way. Like they just went on a trip of a lifetime. To learn more about our New Years trips to Cuba this year, go here.

Save $150 on Cuba Trip: Global Exchange Reality Tours is offering a $150 DISCOUNT when you register for one of our Cuba trips by August 15th, 2011. Simply mention this blog post to receive your discount.

So what are you waiting for? Cuba awaits you.

Go to the bottom of this post for an update  about flight information added on 6/21.

SF Gate, home of the San Francisco Chronicle, recently reported this exciting news about traveling to Cuba:

San Francisco Bay Area organizations offering education-based trips to Cuba will now be able to fly out of Oakland International Airport, which has been approved as one of only 4 charter flight gateways to the Caribbean island.

Airport officials announced today that Oakland received authorization by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to offer nonstop charter passenger service to Cuba. Before this, the only other airport with the authorization to do that were Miami, Los Angeles and New York’s John F. Kennedy.

Before you get too excited, however, it doesn’t change the rules about who can travel legally to Havana and under what circumstances. You still have to go through an authorized education-travel operator, or person-to-person programs, such as Global Exchange or the Los Angeles-based Cuba Travel Services. This approval only makes it easier for those organizations to offer direct flights.

Read the complete article here.

Another news article, this one from Contra Costa Times, issued this warning about the news:

Travel restrictions requiring that the trip be for academic, religious, humanitarian or newsgathering purposes will still apply. However, these restrictions were loosened earlier this year by the Obama administration as part of an ongoing effort to make Cuba travel easier.

Read the complete Contra Costa Times article here, and this blog post Change in U.S. Cuba Travel Policy: What Does this Mean for You?

Traveling to Cuba may not be as simple as say, hopping a flight to Disneyworld, but this new development will make it easier for us here at Global Exchange to bring many folks to Cuba. Visit our website to learn more about traveling to Cuba.

Flights from Oakland to Cuba are tentatively set to start in December 2011, but possibly sooner. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Travel to Cuba with Global Exchange: Now is the perfect time to plan your trip to Cuba, since it’s getting easier for us to organize trips.  We’d love for you to join us on one of our Reality Tours to Cuba.

The best time to go to Cuba? New Years! Hopefully Oakland flights will be up and running by then. Everyone I have ever known that has gone on a Global Exchange New Years trip to Cuba has come back…different. In a good way. Like they just went on a trip of a lifetime. To learn more about our New Years trips to Cuba this year, go here.

Save $150 on Cuba Trip: In honor of this recent exciting new travel development, Global Exchange Reality Tours is offering a $150 DISCOUNT when you register for one of our Cuba trips by August 15th, 2011. Simply mention this blog post to receive your discount.

So what are you waiting for? Cuba awaits you.

Update Added on 6/21/2011: Since this blog post was published, there has been an update about flights to Cuba….Just announced: flights to Cuba from Los Angeles will begin in mid July. Know what that means? Our plans for Reality Tours New Years trips to Cuba are moving forward as planned. Yippee!

Wondering about the Obama administration’s January 14th announcement that lifts some government-imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba for several categories of U.S. Citizens?

Join us for a webinar on March 1st at Noon (PST) to learn about what the recent changes to US travel restrictions to Cuba mean for you. We’ll explore the opportunities ahead and what the ongoing constraints still are without normalized diplomatic relations between our countries.

Global Exchange Reality Tours Cuba experts will discuss these topics with a policy analyst and a Cuba-expert lawyer. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn.

There will be a Q&A session after the presentation and you can ask your question via chat-room or phone. Please, join us and help us out by forwarding this message to your friends.

To participate register today at:

Suggested donation: $5-$20 sliding scale
If you cannot attend you will receive a recording of the webinar audio.

What people said about past Global Exchange webinars:
“A force multiplier”
“An excellent webinar filled with useful information”
“Nice job. Well worth the $10.”
“It was indeed informative.”
“Very well run.”
“Thanks so much. That was awesome.”
“Gracias to you all….very informative, very helpful!”