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San Francisco Event Examines Policies Around Licensed Travel to Cuba for Group Itineraries

4 Minute Read

You’re Invited to the Obama Administration’s new rules for academic and “people-to-people” travel to Cuba

When: April 18, 2011, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: The Commonwealth Club of California
595 Market Street, 2nd floor
San Francisco, California

Registration required. Please RSVP with your name, title and organization to [email protected], (202) 232-3317

The Commonwealth Club of California and the Center for International Policy (CIP), of Washington D.C., invite you to a workshop conference to examine the new White House policy permitting licensed travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens for broad educational purposes. The conference will discuss the “people-to-people” travel opportunities available under the new rules and how specifically to create group travel itineraries that conform to them. Such itineraries exploring Cuba’s extraordinary culture and biodiversity—its music, dance and art, history, religion, architectural history and preservation, as well as its nature and environment—can have strong appeal for travelers.

The conference will also address the new general licenses for academic travel and what they mean for colleges and universities interested in setting up new academic programs in Cuba, or resurrecting earlier programs terminated in 2004 by the Bush administration. Colleges and universities may also wish to avail themselves of the new people-to-people travel opportunity by developing alumni programs in subject areas such as those above.


  • People-to-people travel. What does it mean and what organizations are qualified to sponsor and organize it?
  • How does an organization apply for a people-to-people license and what supporting certifications and documentation are required or useful?
  • What people-to-people itineraries are likely to be acceptable under the new rules in terms of promoting the Obama adminstration’s goals in approving the rules?
  • How to structure an attractive trip that conforms to the rules.
  • Per diem limits on expenditures per traveler, and what can and cannot be purchased in Cuba to bring back into the U.S.
  • Securing Cuban approvals for proposed people-to-people programs and obtaining necessary visas.
  • Booking accommodations in Cuba and making other on-the-ground arrangements there; the role of licensed U.S. Travel Service Providers (TSPs).
  • What is a Treasury Department “general license” for academic programs in Cuba, and what institutions will qualify for one?
  • How a U.S. academic program is arranged in Cuba.
  • The requirement that courses must be given for “academic credit,” what does it mean? The participation of adjunct faculty and students from other colleges and universities.
  • Permitted expenditures in Cuba by U.S. universities and colleges.
  • Record-keeping and other compliance issues arising from the U.S. embargo on Cuba.


9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
and coffee

9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
Welcoming Remarks
Kristina Nemeth, Travel Director
Commonwealth Club

9:45 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.
Introduction: The New Obama Travel Rules:
A Fresh Approach to U.S.-Cuba Relations?

Wayne S. Smith, Cuba Program Director,
Center for International Policy, Washington D.C.

10:10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Goals of the Program
Jarahn Hillsman, Chief Economic Officer,
Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs,
U.S. Department of State (INVITED)

10:30 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
Academic and People-To-People Travel to Cuba:
The Legal Dimension

Robert L. Muse, Attorney, Washington D.C.

11:10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Non-degree Educational Travel to Cuba:

Informative and Appealing Programs
Elizabeth Newhouse, Associate,
Center for International Policy, Washington D.C.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Questions and Answers


Wayne S. Smith, Director of the Cuba Program and Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy, Washington, DC, is a visiting professor of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He served as Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1979 to 1982 during his twenty-five years with the State Department (1957-82). He was also executive secretary of President Kennedy’s Latin American Task Force, and served in Argentina, Brazil, and the Soviet Union. He is a former Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Jarahn Hillsman, Chief Economic Officer at the Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Mr. Hillsman is a career officer in the State Department’s Foreign Service. He joined the Cuban affairs office in September 2009 after serving in El Salvador, Ecuador, and Uganda. He received a BA from California State University Northridge and an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Robert L. Muse is a Washington, D.C., lawyer with long experience in U.S. laws relating to Cuba. He provides legal counsel to a number of U.S. not-for-profits operating in Cuba, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the New York Botanical Garden, the Social Science Research Council, and the Council of the Americas, as well as to the Association of Latin American Studies and universities seeking to establish academic programs in Cuba. He has testified on legal issues involving Cuba before the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate, the Trade Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Standing Committee of the Canadian House of Commons, the External Economic Relations Committee of the European Parliament (Brussels), the European Parliament’s Inter-party Group on Cuba (Strasbourg), and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Mr. Muse has delivered papers on the Helms-Burton Act and other U.S. laws pertaining to Cuba at conferences sponsored by many organizations including the National Policy Association, The Economist, the Brookings Institution, and various legal and international relations foundations based in London, Miami, New York, Brussels, Toronto, Madrid, and many other cities.

Elizabeth Newhouse, a consultant on Cuba, is an Associate in the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Program. She has served as an expert lecturer on Cuban history, politics, culture, and U.S.-Cuba relations on trips to the island sponsored by NGO groups. They included in 2000-2002 the National Geographic Society, where she worked for 30 years as editor, writer, and for more than a decade director of its travel book publishing program. Raised in Cuba, she is author of Cuba (National Geographic, 1999), a book that chronicles Cuba’s past and present.

Should you have questions, and to RSVP, please contact Jaclyn Humphrey,
CIP’s Cuba program intern at [email protected].

Directions to the Commonwealth Club (San Francisco):

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