Obama administration readies ‘trials for travel’ to Cuba

American Airlines may include Santa Clara, Cuba, in its website’s list of Caribbean destinations, but the U.S. laws that punish U.S. residents traveling to Cuba are still in place. Compliance may be reduced to a web check box at this moment, but while the law is still on the books, it can be tightened again at any time.

An emergency resolution submitted to the National Lawyers Guild 2016 #Law4thePeople Convention, held Aug. 3-7 in New York City, reports that the Obama administration’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls has appointed an administrative law judge to hear cases brought against travelers to Cuba.

On July 26 — coincidentally, Cuba’s National Rebellion Day — “OFAC served a complaint instituting proceedings against Albert Fox, as President of the Alliance for a Responsible Cuba Policy Policy Foundation (the Respondent), seeking a penalty of $100,000 for participating in two short trips to Cuba in 2010 and 2011, and claiming that the Respondent improperly assisted other U.S. nationals on those two trips.” (tinyurl.com/NLGCubaResolution)

Fox “has been recognized as a key contributor in building a significant body of opinion in Florida for normalizing relations with Cuba, and has also been a critic of continuing to fund the OFAC office in Miami.” For nearly three years opinion polls have reported Floridians support normalized U.S. relations with Cuba and at a rate higher than in the rest of the country. (See Feb. 11, 2014, Atlantic Council poll)

Attorney Art Heitzer, chair of the NLG Cuba Committee, submitted the resolution, which warns, “This action threatens to establish a renewed precedent of intimidation against individuals and organizations which have broken from the hard line against Cuba in Florida and elsewhere.”

Currently 52 of 100 senators support S.299, the Freedom to Travel Bill, and 131 Representatives have cosponsored H.R.664, its companion bill in the House of Representatives.