For the average American, the only way to travel to Cuba legally is through participation in a ‘people-to-people’ program. Soldiers Grove residents Ron and Phant Byers recently participated in one of these tours and will share their experience at the Soldiers Grove Public Library on Tuesday, March 24 from 7 to 9 p.m.
“There were 11 of us as delegates on the eight-day trip to Cuba at the end of November 2014,” said the Byers. “We were part of a Witness for Peace delegation to study the impact of the embargo, meet people face to face, and learn about Cuban culture. The trip was allowed through a U.S. policy that permitted authorized groups registered as educational organizations to visit Cuba through a ‘People to People’ initiative. We met with people in many different contexts: university, arts, music, schools, microenterprise, and neighborhood community program initiatives. We will be giving a talk with a slide show and music of our experiences on this trip.”
The U.S. government has limited travel to Cuba since 1960, after Fidel Castro came to power. Sanctioned travel was limited to journalists, academics, government officials, those with immediate family members living on the island and others licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department until 2011, when the rules were amended to allow all Americans to visit Cuba as long as they are taking part in a ‘people-to-people’ tour.
In 2014, restrictions were further relaxed to allow those who meet these regulations to travel to Cuba without first requesting permission.
Independent travel to Cuba by Americans – i.e. tourism – remains prohibited, however.
The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served afterward.