It’s now official. President Obama  has reinstated the “people-to-people” exchange provision, according to the new regulations for travel to Cuba  that posted to the Federal Register last Friday.
I previously posted about the specifics of changes that affect students, academics, and people traveling for religious purposes. But the critical issue has been how to interpret the “people-to-people” provision, which was previously left unclear.
Here’s what the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control  (OFAC) says about its implementation of the policy changes announced by the President on January 14, 2011, to allow for greater licensing of travel to Cuba for educational, cultural, religious, and journalistic activities and to expand licensing of remittances to Cuba:
“OFAC has restored to the CACR a statement of specific licensing policy for 'people-to-people' exchanges. This travel category provides for licenses authorizing educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program when those exchanges take place under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes such programs to promote people-to-people contact.”
Awesome! By my interpretation, this means that the door is definitely being thrown wide open, as it was under the Clinton  administration, to a wide range of tour organizations who will now be able to offer cultural tours across the spectrum.
You can read the full details on the OFAC website .
The changes are effective immediately, as of last Friday.
Now I’m finally able to announce that I shall be escorting a photographic tour to Cuba this April on behalf of the prestigious Santa Fe Photographic Workshops .
The tour – San Cristóbal de La Habana Revisited: The Project Workshop  – exclusively for the organization's alumni will be jointly led by myself, Reid Callahan (Santa Fe Photographic Workshops director), plus photographers Kip Brundage and Dustin Sammann, in partnership with Nelson Ramírez de Arellano , curator of the Cuban photographic institute, Fototeca.
I’ve also been contacted by two other prestigious operators of educational tours wishing to consult on Cuba itineraries being planned for later this year under the new people-to-people category. Stay tuned!
Oh, and there’s definitely good news for freelance journalists, who until last Friday were required to ask Uncle Sam’s permission to visit Cuba. Says OFAC:
“OFAC has increased the scope of the statement of specific licensing policy for journalistic activities in Cuba to include free-lance journalistic projects other than ‘articles.’”
I take this to mean bloggers. It appears that photographers may now also be granted more laxity (previously a photographer could not go to Cuba merely to produce a coffee-table book if that book were not to be accompanied by text, for example).
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