14ymedio, Havana, 3 December 2015 – Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel’s plan to spend the Christmas holidays in Cuba with his family is in danger since it was made public, because the embargo prohibits Americans from traveling to the island as tourists.
“Thanks for telling everybody what I’m going to do with my family,” the politician told Mike Allen in a tone of annoyance, after the American journalist asked about his trip in a live television interview. “You had a private conversation with me and now you decided to make that public,” President Obama’s former chief of staff reproached the journalist. “Yes this year… we will take our kids to Cuba, to expose them to the culture there, as we have done in India and also in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Chile and Vietnam and Laos,” he said.
Since the easing of the embargo last January, special government permission is no longer needed to go to Cuba. However, the reason for the trip must fall within one of twelve categories under the current regulation: family visits, official government travel, humanitarian missions, professional, educational, religious, cultural or sports exchanges, as well as news coverage.
These limitations have not prevented the increase in travel, and between January and July of this year 88,996 Americans visited Cuba, 54% more than in the same period of 2014.
The trip of the Chicago mayor and his family could fit within the people-to-people the category, a formula created to circumvent the embargo, which includes visits to community projects or small businesses. However, the disadvantage is that one can only make this type of trip in groups and with the logistical support from an agency approved by the US Treasury Department.