Avoid fines for unlicensed travel to Cuba -- the following information was extracted from a
Feb 13, 2003 archive.org version of a controversial page removed from cubalinda.com

U.S.CITIZENS!
 
U.S.Citizens click here to learn how to avoid fines for unlicensed travel to Cuba

The above page was marked "UNDER REVISION!" as of 12-27-03... perhaps removed under USA government pressure...

Below, in the spirit of our cherished freedom of the press, you can find a reproduction of some of the removed information.  Refer to

 
http://web.archive.org/web/20021204080645/cubalinda.com/English/General_Info/G_InfoSpecialInfoUScitizen.asp
for a permanent archive of this copy of most the missing  http://cubalinda.com/English/General_Info/G_InfoSpecialInfoUScitizen.asp  page
 
 
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  Latest on the Bush Attempted Crackdown on Unlicensed Travel to Cuba
 
  This past summer there was a near avalanche of news reporting on the harsh crackdown by the Bush Administration on Americans who travel to Cuba without licenses. The new enforcement policy is being carried out by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of the Treasury (OFAC). Typically OFAC takes one of two actions: 1) a "Requirement to Furnish Information" letter to the traveler demanding information on the traveler's suspected unlicensed travel to Cuba; or 2) a "Pre-penalty Notice" mailed to the traveler assessing a civil fine---often $7500 and based on OFAC's determination that the traveler spent money in Cuba without a license. The "Pre-penalty Notice" gives the traveler 30 days from the date of the letter to pay the fine or request an official hearing.

Everyone should know that they should refuse to give the self-incriminating information demanded in 1) above, and in the case of 2) above, they should ask for a hearing well within the 30 day period.There are form letters below prepared by the National Lawyers Guild for response to OFAC: one for 1) above in which the traveler refuses to give self-incriminating information; and another for 2) above in which the traveler requests a formal hearing.

If the record of the past five years is any guide, after a hearing is requested OFAC will then file away the case because no appeals hearings have been held, nor have any judges been appointed to hold such hearings. Through the date of this posting, October 14, 2002, the legal processing of all such cases has stopped at that stage, and therefore no fines have been imposed when the request for hearing was made on time.
 

Letters recommended by the National Lawyers Guild:


1) For reponse to an OFAC "Letter of "Requirement to Furnish Information"

[DATE]

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Attn: Mr./Ms. ______________________

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (Annex)

Washington, D.C. 20220

FAX: 202 622-0447


Re: [INSERT YOUR NAME] (FAC #CU-[INSERT "CU" NUMBER FROM OFAC LETTER TO YOU]

Dear Mr./Ms. _______________________:
 

This letter is in response to your "Requirement to Furnish Information" letter to me, dated [INSERT DATE OF OFAC LETTER TO YOU] and received by me [INSERT DATE YOU ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE LETTER]. For the reasons stated below, I respectfully decline to respond.

OFACís regulations of transactions incidental to travel, and OFACís demand for information pursuant to such regulations are a violation of the rights of U.S. citizens to travel abroad, to seek information through foreign travel relevant to public issues, and to exchange information and views with foreign persons, all as guaranteed by the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Furthermore, OFACís regulations regarding transactions incidental to travel, and OFACís demand for information pursuant to such regulations constitute discriminatory enforcement of the laws on the basis of national origin and political viewpoint, in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The imposition of any penalties is also discriminatory. Such conduct is arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. In this respect, it is noted that substantial numbers of Cuban-Americans and others travel to Cuba with the knowledge of OFAC, in apparent violation of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, but without consequence.

Furthermore, with respect to any further communication, I assert my privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Sincerely,

Signed_______________________________

 
  2) For response to an OFAC letter of "Pre-penalty Notice"

[DATE]

R. Richard Newcomb, Director

Office of Foreign Assets Control

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20220

Re: Prepenalty Notices to [INSERT YOUR NAME]FAC No. CU-[INSERT "CU" NUMBER FROM LETTER RECEIVED FROM OFAC]

   
  Dear Mr. Newcomb:

This letter is in response to the above-referenced Prepenalty Notice dated [INSERT DATE OF PREPENALTY NOTICE], which was received on [INSERT DATE NOTICE RECEIVED].

I deny each and every allegation in the prepenalty notice and request an agency hearing in Washington, D.C. with respect to the imposition of any penalty.

In connection with our above hearing request, I submit the following pre-hearing discovery request:

1. All documents in your files pertaining to this matter, including, but not necessarily limited to: Any records or evidence of the allegations made in the prepenalty notice;

2. Any correspondence or communications received from members of Congress within the past year which are related to OFACís enforcement of regulations pertaining to Cuba and OFACís response to said correspondence or communications;

3. A summary of penalties assessed and/or collected from Cuban Americans in the past five years for violation of the regulations limiting such persons to one family emergency trip to Cuba per year; and

4. A summary of penalties collected from persons subject to OFAC regulations pertaining to Cuba other than Cuban Americans in last five years.

This discovery request in ongoing, and will be supplemented from time to time as needed.


Signed_______________________________

   
  No one should be intimidated by the government's unconstitutional campaign against Americans' right to travel where they want, and everyone should know of the legal assistance program offered jointly by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild. The program is called "Wall of Lawyers," and it is designed to assure legal assistance to any traveler to Cuba who suffers harrassment from immigration officials or receives letters from OFAC as described above. In addition to using the Guild form letters, travelers can call the CCR at 212-614-6464 for assistance. CCR will either take your case or will arrange for a Guild lawyer to help you.
 General Info on Travel by Americans to Cuba
  Common belief holds that U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens (Green Card holders) are forbidden by law to travel to Cuba. This is not true. The applicable legislation is the Trading with the Enemy Act under which the restriction is not on travel but on spending money in Cuba. Thus Americans who sail to Cuba in regattas or who bring their fishing yachts to participate in tournaments are not breaking the law simply by entering Cuban territoral waters. Of course one can practically equate the ban on spending money in Cuba to a travel ban because in normal circumstances a visitor must spend money on accommodations, food and other necessities.

Exceptions to the ban on spending money in Cuba are allowed by licenses issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department. Those interested in reading the official policy regarding travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba can view the appropriate documents at the websites of the Departments of State and Treasury.

General licenses, which do not require individual permissions for visits, are issued by OFAC for certain categories of people like journalists employed by a recognized media organization. Others who are "fully hosted," meaning that they are invited and their expenses are paid by a non-U.S. host individual or organization, may also visit without an individual license. Some institutions also have licenses that cover anyone they authorize to use their license for travel in keeping with the terms of the license. Those not in the general license categories or not traveling under an institutional license must apply for a specific license and expect a waiting period. No one should expect to get a license to visit Cuba out of curiosity or for tourism, and there is no point in applying. However, we can help groups get coverage by an institutional license for people-to-people, humanitarian, religious and other approved purposes. And if you want to come without license, you will find information below that shows some of the ways to get around the legal impediments to visiting Cuba.

We could engage in lengthy discourse on historical reasons for U.S. policy toward Cuba, seen the world over as utterly absurd, but we'll leave it with a short opinion. We believe Cuban-American extremists with deep pockets and their ultra-conservative allies in the American political class long to see socialism overthrown in Cuba and a return of Cuba to U.S. tutelage. They have spent princely sums to propagate the false allegation that Cuba is a threat to the United States, and they will go to any lengths, including terrorism, to cause damage to Cuba. Until now these people have been able to thwart the wishes of a majority of Americans, according to most of the polls, who wish to see an end to the travel ban and the illegal and inhuman embargo (or "blockade" as it is known in Cuba).

No American must accept this government policy maintained by a reduced number of moneyed extremists. Each year in fact tens of thousands of U.S. citizens are defying the law and coming to Cuba without licenses. And to our knowledge no one has ever been criminally prosecuted for simply visiting Cuba. OFAC has attempted to levy civil fines in a few cases, but there are ways to beat this system. The law is intended to intimidate, and until the current Bush administration it was little enforced. Cubalinda.com encourages Americans to use our services to visit this fascinating country. You will find that Cubans are probably more interested in Americans and American popular culture than in any other nationality. And one thing is certain: Cubans will extend to Americans the very same hospitality and friendship that they extend traditionally to all foreigners.


At Flights To and From Cuba you will find the schedules for the direct U.S.-Cuba charter flights reserved for travelers coming with a license. These flights are to Havana from Miami, Los Angeles and New York. For those coming without licenses you will also find schedules for many of the regular flights to Cuba from gateway cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Cancun, Mexico City, Nassau, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay. If you travel without license, however, you will find that it is very difficult if not impossible to arrange your flight from a gateway city to Havana. We have an easy solution to this problem. Cubalinda.com has contracts with most of the airlines flying to Cuba from the gateway cities. We can make your reservations and pre-pay your ticket in Havana, and the cost will be part of our invoice to you. We send you the confirmation code, and you pick up your ticket along with your Cuban tourist card ($15-20) at the Cuba-bound airline counter in the gateway city airport.

You should arrange for your roundtrip reservations from your point of departure to your choice of gateway cities through your regular travel agent or directly with the prefered airline. Your roundtrip airline ticket to Cuba will be purchased completely separately. This way on your return flight to the gateway city you can discard your ticket for the Cuba flight after it departs Cuba and still have in hand your ticket for return to your point of departure in the U.S..

Those Americans who visit Cuba without licenses should know that U.S. immigration forms for returning travelers may ask what countries you have visited. Since without a license you cannot come on direct U.S.-Cuba charter flights, you will normally have come via a gateway city. You should include Cuba as well as the transit country, and if an immigration or customs officer directly asks if you visited Cuba, you must admit it because lying to a federal officer is an offence. Americans who admit to U.S. officials that they visited Cuba without a license are not denied re-entry or arrested. Some officers may give a little lecture, some may say nothing, sometimes baggage may be closely inspected and your rum or cigars confiscated, and sometimes passports may be copied or notes taken. It is in no way an intimidating or scary procedure.

Travel to Cuba is really quite simple. Just let us know when you want to come, check out Flights to and from Cuba, and send us information on your expected time of arrival in the gateway city. We will book your most convenient onward flight to Cuba. You do need a valid U.S. passport to get your Cuban tourist card at the departure airport of the gateway city. On your arrival in Cuba you do not have to have your passport stamped and you may wish to remind the immigration inspector not to stamp it. Your tourist card will be stamped instead. On departure through Cuban immigration you simply return the tourist card, and no sign of travel to Cuba appears in your passport.

Finally, we repeat our encouragement to Americans to visit Cuba and get to know the truth about one of our nearest neighbors. Take the plunge and have a memorable adventure. We are here in Havana to help.

 
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