Group urges Treasury to expand travel to Cuba

Group urges Treasury to expand travel to Cuba
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The Center for Democracy in the Americas is calling on the Obama administration to further relax restrictions on travel to Cuba. 

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew this week, the group’s executive director, Sarah Stephens, asked that individuals be allowed to visit Cuba under the same rules that currently apply to group visits to the island through people-to-people programs.

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Earlier this year, President Obama issued regulations that allow travelers who qualify under a dozen broad categories of authorized travel to visit the country without applying for a license. 

Those categories include visiting family, conducting business, journalism, government meetings, research, education, religious purposes, public performances, athletic competitions and humanitarian projects.

Americans are still not allowed to travel to Cuba for tourism. 

Approved group trips to Cuba through the people-to-people program are for educational exchanges that aim to aid humanitarian efforts and to develop a civil society in Cuba. These educational exchanges cannot be for academic study or pursuant to a degree program.

The Center for Democracy in the Americas said it supports legislation to lift the travel ban entirely, and is asking for this travel expansion in the meantime while it waits for congressional action.

“This change would expand the flow of U.S. visitors to Cuba, broaden contacts between Cubans and the people of our country, and increase the amount of transactions taking place directly between U.S. visitors and Cuban entrepreneurs,” Stephens’s letter said. “At the same time, U.S. travelers who plan their own itineraries would still be required to sign travel affidavits and abide by the rules and record-keeping requirements that govern group people-to-people trips today.”