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TRIPS TO CUBA

Please read our Briefing on Travel first. Trips are listed as a matter of public information only. The NNOC is not a travel provider. Also, CubaSolidarity.com makes no representations of any kind as to whether or not your travel will comply with U.S. travel regulations. Talk to your tour operator, and contact the National Lawyers Guild for legal advice.

In the last several years Washington has illegalized over 90% of already tightly-limited travel by non-Cuban-Americans, and cut off nearly three-quarters of family visits. However, some legal travel still exists. See trips below, and get in touch with the two travel agencies listed on the right. For further information read our Briefing on Travel.

Trips are in two categories: legal, and unlicensed/challenge trips.

Trip descriptions below are provided by trip operators.

SCHEDULED LEGAL TRIPS TO CUBA


Delegation to Venezuela: Labor, Ecology and Indigenous Peoples Day
October 6-16, 2007

This October we will travel from Caracas to eastern Venezuela with experienced trip leader and long-time activist Lisa Sullivan. We'll see the sweeping changes taking place in the "Bolivarian Revolution." Participants in the delegation will witness the "proceso" of change in education and literacy, health care and living conditions. We'll learn about the new experiments in citizen participation, cooperatives, and worker-run factories. There is a palpable sense of energy, hope and creativity taking place in Venezuela which is flowing beyond its borders.

After the landslide re-election of President Hugo Chavez last December, the new phrase guiding the country is "turning on all the motors of Venezuela's Socialism of the 21st century." This delegation will give participants both the overview of current directions, and a focus on two areas: labor and ecology.

Caracas and the East
In Caracas the group will meet with government and oil industry officials, and visit social programs in the hillside barrios.

We will then travel east to the Afro-Venezuelan region of Barlovento to visit a cacao plantation and take a boat ride to observe the "spectacle of the birds" in the mangroves of Tacarigua de la Laguna. Further east, near the centuries-old former capital, Cumana, we will visit fishing cooperatives and enjoy the stunning eastern shores.

Orinoco
The second half of the trip will take place in Guayana in the southeast, home to Venezuela's most important natural resources and industry. Delegates will travel by boat down the tranquil Cano Manamo river to visit fishing communities of the Warao, Venezuela's second largest indigenous group. We will then ferry across Latin America's second largest river, the Orinoco, under whose shores lie the world's largest oil reserves. Across the river, the group will spend a few days in Ciudad Guayana a city searching for its identity between its stunning natural beauty and its growing iron, steel and aluminum industry.

Optional Destinations
For those who want to experience the exotic beauty of Angel Falls, the world's longest waterfall, or visit the ancient geological formations of the Gran Sabana and indigenous Pemon communities, we encourage you to add some personal travel days after the delegation. We will end the trip in Ciudad Guayana, which is the jumping point to these destinations.

Application
Cost for the ten-day trip is $1450, including most meals, lodging, and all in-country travel, as well as the return flight from Ciudad Guayana to Caracas. It does not include airfare to and from Venezuela.
For more information and an application, please call MITF, 415/924-3227 (California) or email mitf(at)igc.org; or Laura Wells at lwlaura(at)yahoo.com or James(at)afgj.org

Sponsored by Marin InterFaith Task Force and the Venezuela Solidarity Network.

Queers to Cuba Tour
December 27 - January 3

Licensed travel for U.S. residents restricted to professional researchers. Contact trip organizers for further details.

David Stanley writes "On December 27, 2007, a group of North Americans will make history by flying to Havana on the first ever Queers to Cuba Tour. They'll spend eight days experiencing the island's rich cultural heritage and meeting representatives of Cuban organizations working for sexual dignity.

Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 27, 2007 (XTVWorld.Com) -- Activists from CENESEX (the National Center for Sexual Education), the Cuban organization advancing queer reforms and AIDS awareness, will brief tour members on the island scene.

Program highlights include joining the throng celebrating the 49th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution in Old Havana, attending an authentic drag show, swimming at the gay beach, learning salsa dancing from island pros, and sampling the city's exciting nightlife. Tour participants will explore colonial and modern Havana, sample museums of art and history, and visit the eco-community at Las Terrazas in Pinar de Rio

The farewell dinner will be at La Guarida Restaurant where the famous 1995 movie "Strawberry and Chocolate" starring Jorge Perugorria and Vladimir Cruz was filmed. In the movie, a young Communist Party activist learns the meaning of live and let live from a gay artistic director.

The tour is being conducted by Sonja de Vries, co-founder of San Francisco-based Queers for Cuba, the first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group to be officially invited to Cuba. Ms de Vries studied race and gay issues in Havana from 1993 to 1994, and her groundbreaking documentary "Gay Cuba" remains the last word on the subject.

"The Queers to Cuba Tour comes at an exciting time for LGBT equality in Cuba," says Sonja de Vries. "The Cubans are drafting legislation to allow same sex unions, lesbian adoption and insemination, and transgender reassignment surgery. These changes are being broadly debated by the population, yet North Americans hear very little about this kind of popular democracy."

The tour is being organized by Cuba Education Tours of Vancouver, Canada, whose coordinator, Marcel Hatch, insists, "The image of Cuba as a gulag for LGBT people is false. It's a myth invented by opponents of revolutionary Cuba. As a gay, I feel safer in Cuba than in Canada or the States. Soon island queers will enjoy greater rights and freedoms than their counterparts in the USA."

Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, has said, "We have to abolish any form of discrimination against those persons. We have to redefine the concept of marriage. Socialism should be a society that does not exclude anybody."

Sonja de Vries recalls, "When I visited Cuba last December with a group, we met with CENESEX president Mariela Castro Espin and she told us about the concrete work being done with transgender people, with lesbians, and with families to encourage support of their LGBT kids. Several members of my group were in tears. To see these efforts being carried out in a way that is so respectful and compassionate is not something most of us have experienced with institutions, much less government!"

The inaugural Queers to Cuba Tour will run from December 27, 2007 to January 3, 2008. Participants will stay at the Hotel St John's in the heart Havana's Vedado entertainment district. The services of a multilingual Cuban guide and a professional bus chauffeur will be provided throughout. It's an event LGBT people and their friends from Canada, the United States, and beyond will not want to miss.

Ms Sonja de Vries and Mr Marcel Hatch are available for media interviews. To arrange a time, call 877-687-3817 toll free or email info @ cubafriends.ca and sonrevolution @ aol.com

About Cuba Education Tours:
Cuba Education Tours has been promoting healthy, entertaining, and ethical travel to Cuba since 2000. Examples of its programs include baseball tours, study abroad programs, a VIP presence at the Havana Jazz Festival, and volunteer opportunities for ESL teachers.

The organization's website is
http://www.canadacuba.ca
with specific information on the Queers to Cuba Tour at
http://www.gaycuba.ca
and photos of Cuba on
http://www.cuba-pictures.com

 

Global Exchange Trips to Cuba
Ongoing

Global Exchange organizes research delegations on various topics for full-time professionals (including teachers, nurses, doctors, architects), and customized tours for humanitarian organizations, educational institutions and religious groups with a license that need program and logistical support. It also provides informational resources and guidance for organizations, educational institutions and religious groups who are interested in acquiring a license.

For more information visit http://www.globalexchange.org/tours/byCountry.html#2
email JoJo Farrell or call toll-free 1-800-497-1994.

 

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CHALLENGING THE TRAVEL BAN

A long tradition of civil disobedience –exemplified by Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.– has shown that organizing to break unjust laws can be an important part of a struggle to overturn them. A number of NNOC member organizations, particularly Pastors for Peace and the Venceremos Brigade, have led the way in organizing trips that publicly challenge Washington’s unjust and unconstitutional efforts to ban travel to Cuba.

Joined now by the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange, every year these groups take scores of people to Cuba, refusing to ask permission from the U.S. government. The point of these trips is to force the U.S. government to either publicly justify its unjustifiable travel ban, or to back off and allow people to go. Groups and individual participants in the 2005 summer trips are currently standing up to letters from the U.S. Treasury Department threatening them with fines.

Here are several upcoming ‘challenge’ trips (publicity/information supplied by sponsoring organizations):

IFCO/Pastors For Peace 2007 Caravan to Cuba
July 2007

Wonder why George W. doesn't want you to know the truth about Cuba?

Find out this summer!

The US government says you can't go to Cuba and see things for yourself. We say you should. For fifteen years, IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravans to Cuba have called international attention to the cruel and immoral US Blockade of Cuba by delivering humanitarian aid to the Cuban people without a Treasury Department license. The blockade causes shortages of food, medicine and other important supplies for eleven million people. The blockade is an immoral policy that uses hunger and disease as political weapons.

In July 2007 the 18th Friendshipment will travel on 14 different routes to visit more than 120 US and Canadian cities. We will travel in school buses, trucks, and cars to Cuba via Mexico with medical and educational supplies collected from groups across the US and Canada, refusing US Treasury Department licenses, as a collective challenge to the blockade and travel ban. We welcome people of all ages and all faiths and persuasions.

You can join the caravan as a caravan vehicle passes through your community from June 30th onwards. Many past caravanistas say that the time traveling through the US, meeting and staying with local community activists across the country, was as important a part of the experience as the time in Cuba. But if your time is limited you also have the option of making your own way down to join us in McAllen, Texas on July 13th.

We will spend 8 days in Cuba visiting hospitals, schools and a range of social projects in Havana and nearby provinces, hearing from important Cuban speakers, and meeting Cubans, young and old, via cultural activities. We will be in Cuba during the July 26th celebrations. We will then fly back to Mexico and cross the Texas border on July 28th, bringing back with us a symbolic donation of goods that Cuba would like to trade with the US people. Once again we are mounting a joint travel challenge with the Venceremos Brigade and the US-Cuba Labor Exchange. We will be in Cuba at the same time as them and return on the same day.

JOIN US!! If you would like to travel with us or are interested in hosting the caravan please contact the IFCO/Pastors for Peace office at cucaravan(at)igc.org

IFCO/Pastors for Peace
418 W. 145th St., New York, NY 10031
Ph: 212-926-5757 Fax: 212-926-5842
www.pastorsforpeace.org

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38th Anniversary Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade

July 2007

Now is your opportunity to join the Venceremos Brigade's travel challenge, to see Cuba, and to defend your constitutional right to travel.

Since 1969, over 8,000 Brigadistas have traveled to Cuba to see the Cuban revolution for themselves and to take a stand against the unjust and immoral U.S. policy towards our neighbor.

Over the years, Brigadistas have harvested sugar cane, citrus, and corn, built housing, painted and repaired buildings - working side by side with Cuban workers and students. At the same time, we meet with leaders of Cuba's federations, mass organizations,and with artists, teachers, social workers, and Cuban 'internationalists' (people who have served abroad, fighting apartheid in Southern Africa or fighting disease throughout the world) and many others. Our goal is to see and learn as much as possible and hear from as many voices as we can. It is truly a life-changing experience.

The Venceremos Brigade has never requested a license from the U.S. government to travel to Cuba. We believe it is our Constitutional right to travel where we please. While the vast majority of the U.S. public supports an end to the travel restrictions, the Bush Administration has increased harassment of Cuban travelers and has eliminated almost all possibilities for legal travel. In response, the VB has organized extremely successful public travel challenges since 2002.

Many Brigadistas have received letters from the Department of the Treasury demanding information and threatening fines. The government is reacting to our challenge and we will continue to fight legally and politically - and collectively - to resist these threats and to end the restrictions.

This is why we need more people than ever to participate in the 38th Contingent, our 5th annual Travel Challenge.

Here is your chance to be on the cutting edge of the movement to end the U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba and to see Revolutionary Cuba with your own eyes - If we don't stand up for our constitutional rights, who will? All Venceremos Brigade travel challengers attend legal and other preparation sessions prior to the trip. Contact us for more information and an application.

Venceremos Brigade
PO Box 5202
Englewood, NJ 07631-5202
email: vbrigad(at)yahoo.com
voicemail: 212-560-4360
website:  www.venceremosbrigade.org

 

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The trips we list are only a sample of those available. Please visit the travel organizations below for more information.

Marazul Charters is a good place to find a comprehensive list, as well as further travel information.

Common Ground Travel is another recommended site for trips and useful information.

   

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