End the Travel Ban on Cuba

A Real Understanding of Cuba: Second Time’s the Charm

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While very few U.S. students have had the opportunity to study abroad in Cuba, even fewer have had the ability to study there twice. The first time I traveled to Havana was in the fall of 2011 for a period of four months, with Tulane University’s Junior Semester Abroad Program at the University of Havana. The four months I spent studying in Havana, were inspiring, unforgettable, and ultimately life-changing. At the end of that time I wasn’t just nervous about returning home and trying to figure out how to explain what seemed like a completely surreal experience to my friends and family, I was nervous about leaving my newfound customs, daily routines, and most importantly my friends, behind.

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15 years Without Justice for the Cuban 5

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Thursday September 12th marks the 15th Anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5. For those of you near the Washington, DC area there are a few events that the National and International Committees for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 are organizing to commemorate the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5.

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Diana Nyad Makes the Swim from Cuba to U.S: An Inspiration to All

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Diana Nyad has finally made it. Last Monday she swam onto the shores of Key West, FL, from the Hemingway Marina in Cuba. The 110 mile trek took 64-year old Nyad 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds. You can watch her arrival to Key West here. This is quite the monumental moment for Nyad who has been dreaming about completing her swim since she was 8 years old. This was her fifth attempt at voyaging the Florida Straits, and she claimed that it would be her final attempt even if she didn’t make it this time.  

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What Cuban-American Lawmakers Don't Understand About Cuba

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75_support_travelFirst off, thanks to all of you who contacted your members of Congress and the White House in defense of people-to-people travel to Cuba. Despite all of our hard efforts, on July 17th, 2013 the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services bill that included language proposed by Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25) that would negatively impact two key points in President Obama’s plan to promote engagement and people-to-people contact with the Cuban people.

As Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE) explained in their press release, “Section 124 would effectively dismantle the "people-to-people" licensing program, allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba for educational purposes, by defunding the program. These licenses have allowed U.S. citizens to legally visit Cuba and experience the island first-hand, ending their reliance on the skewed portrayals of Cuban reality by either the U.S. government or the corporate-controlled media.” 

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What Cuban-American Lawmakers Don't Understand About Cuba

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75_support_travelOn July 17th
, 2013 the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services bill that included language proposed by Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25) that would negatively impact two key points in President Obama’s plan to promote engagement and people-to-people contact with the Cuban people.

As Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE) explained in their press release, “Section 124 would effectively dismantle the "people-to-people" licensing program, allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba for educational purposes, by defunding the program. These licenses have allowed U.S. citizens to legally visit Cuba and experience the island first-hand, ending their reliance on the skewed portrayals of Cuban reality by either the U.S. government or the corporate-controlled media.”

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Cuba Summer Reading: Cuba 54, Everything About Cuba and More

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Did you know...

Cuba_54

1. "When Cubans are waiting to enter a public facility and you arrive, you must determine who the last person is before you to arrive was and then you are now the last one – they do not form lines?"

2. "Cuba has good drinking water, and daily fresh baked bread in every corner of the street?"

3. "Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way in Cuba. Cars, trucks, and buses will bear down on you with the horn blaring?"

Through these and other insights, author Paul LeBon aims to give the readers of his newly published book "Cuba 54" a background on Cuba useful for any visit to the island. While the book would be a valuable addition to any traveler to Cuba's reading list with these tidbits alone, what makes "Cuba 54" great is its desire to dig deeper. In fact, LeBon taps into his real life experiences and interaction with individuals across Cuba to find out "...why the whole Cuba debacle manifested itself, why things are the way they are, and how much better things could be." This mini-encyclopedia on modern Cuba covers three main topics critical to understanding the country today: a general introduction to Cuban culture, the "Miami Cartel" and their operations in the United States, and what lies ahead for Cuba's future.

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Defend Travel Today: Don't Let Beyonce and Jay-Z's Trip to Cuba Be the Last!

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jay_z_beyonce_cubaThe House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Governmental passed the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services bill this past Wednesday. This bill often contains Cuba policy language, so it is one that we monitor quite closely.  Again, some members of the subcommittee have decided to use this bill to attempt to change current foreign policy towards Cuba. How? The legislation aims to eliminate educational exchanges that are not “for-credit” or pursuant of a degree.  This basically means the elimination of people-to-people travel, recently made famous by Beyonce and Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba last April.

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Contact Info for Senate Appropriations Committee

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In your call to your Representative you can say: "I'd like to leave a message for [Name of Senator] regarding an upcoming Appropriations bill for 2014. A House Appropriations subcommittee passed a draft of the bill that includes language that would restrict travel to Cuba and eliminate people-to-people travel. I want to urge the Senator to make sure similar language does not appear in the Senate version of the Financial Services Appropriations bill."

Senate Appropriations Committee Members

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Contact Info for House Appropriations Committee

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In your call to your Representative you can say: "I'd like to leave a message for [Name of your Representative] regarding the House Financial Services Appropriations bill for 2014. I do not support the language in the bill that would further restrict travel to Cuba and eliminate people-to-people travel. I would like the Representative to oppose this language when it comes to the full committee."

House Appropriations Committee Members

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Cuba: You Can't Take Someone Else's Word for It

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Whenever I tell people I studied abroad in Cuba, I feel like the reactions can be categorized by two familiar emotions: curiosity and confusion. There are usually a lot of questions…How did I travel to a country that has been “off-limits” to U.S. citizens since 1961? What is it REALLY like? Did you see old American cars, smoke a cigar, and/or drink rum? From first glance, I also do not have any obvious connections to the island: I am a blonde haired, blue eyed girl from Wisconsin who did not meet anyone from Cuba until college and whose initial exposure to Latin America was through cheesy videos in middle school Spanish class...

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