335,335 passengers flew Miami to Cuba (i.e. licensed by OFAC) in 2011
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Mar 31, 2012 5:01 PM Last Post By: chefhagan
Mar 29, 2012 6:48 AM
The US is still #2 behind Canada in sending visitors to Cuba.
It is anyone's guess how many Americans travel without license by simply looping through a 3rd country but I imagine it is now less than the number who travel legally.
This seems to dispel any thoughts that Americans cannot legally visit Cuba. While one still has to jump through a few hoops and cannot simply book a ticket, the fact is that Americans can now legally go.
Mar 29, 2012 7:10 AM
1There is no justification for forcing anyone to get a license from anybody to go anywhere as a tourist, unless pandering to the anti-Castro mob in Miami is legitimate behavior for the US Congress and the executive branch of the US government.
Mar 29, 2012 11:17 AM
2Thanks for posting that statistic, Bob. Does anyone have a statistic from Cuba indicating how many US citizens visited in 2011? If we had that number, and subtracted from it the number who went legally, we'd have a pretty good idea of the ratio of the number running the blockade (or whatever you want to call it) compared to the number who traveled to Cuba with OFAC permission.
Mar 29, 2012 1:36 PM
3Good idea but the two numbers are not on a consistent basis as Cuba considers American citizens or legal residents of the US who were born in Cuba to be Cuban not American. They are even required to have a Cuban passport in spite of the fact they are US citizens.
So the Cuban government does not consider a large part of that 335,335 to be American visitors, only Cubans returning home after being somewhere out in the ether for a long time.
Mar 29, 2012 4:45 PM
Mar 29, 2012 4:47 PM
5And that's just those from Miami, bob? I wonder how many went from the growing number of cities in the US?
Tough to say how many americans go illegally but my Cuban friends made a point of telling me they are seeing a lot more of them as of late.
Mar 29, 2012 5:05 PM
6So the Cuban government does not consider a large part of that 335,335 to be American visitors, only Cubans returning home after being somewhere out in the ether for a long time.
I'm not sure that is correct at least in terms of how Cuban Immigration would compile statistics. They certainly are capable of differentiating between expatriated nationals returning for family visits on a habilitated Cuban passport and those returning from a short trip abroad on a PVE or residing outside Cuba legally under PRI and PRE status. In any event the Cuban passport requirement is not an indicia of real citizenship and is just another form of migration check or more cynically a revenue generator.
On the US end I suspect that 75% or more of those 335,335 Americans are travelling under the Family visit exception. More are travelling now because of the repeal of the Bush era restrictions and the liberalization of the definition of close family member coupled with loose enforcement. I would be surprised if there are significant numbers of Americans travelling under the other licensed catagories.
Mar 29, 2012 6:31 PM
7Altahabana: you may be correct on how the Cuban government accounts for those US Citizens born in Cuba who must also have Cuban passports. I do not have any first hand knowledge. Very little info is available and what is available may be suspect.
A large number of that 335,335 are traveling under the family visit license. Just looking at people on the plane, I might guess 90%. I am one of those family visitors but not Hispanic at all. I might guess that 10% of those on my flights are qualifying for some other license. Nothing firm or scientific, just my guess from being on a number of Miami-Havana flights every year.
Mar 29, 2012 6:53 PM
8I was married to a Cuban national residing in the US under PSI status who had numerous family members and family friends residing legally in the US, so I have some familiarity with the Family visit exception. My experience though was when the definition of family member was more restrictive than it is now, but even then the overwhelming majority of licensed travelers were Cuban ex-patriots.
What I disagree with is your suggestion that it is now easier for Americans to travel legally under an OFAC license.. If more Americans are travelling"licensed"--other than those who now qualify under the expanded definition of close family member---that is more a reflection of lax enforcement than a change in the qualifications for a license. It may now be easier for some organized groups to qualify for a license, but I doubt that has contributed to any significant increase in the number of licensed travelers. My impression is that most people who visit Cuba now unlicensed would not qualify for a license unless they have a "Cuban in the woodpile" under the liberalized definition.
Mar 29, 2012 6:58 PM
9Well my comment was based on several reports I have read - therefore it must be true - that the annual tourist figures provided by Cuba do not include Cuban born travellers from USA (or elsewhere). Clearly Immigration have the capacity to discriminate whether the published firgures do is moot. The other aspect about the figures is of course that repeat visitors are counted each time so strictly speaking the figures refer to no of trips not no of visitors. Still a lot but.
Mar 29, 2012 7:39 PM
10If more Americans are travelling"licensed"--other than those who now qualify under the expanded definition of close family member---that is more a reflection of lax enforcement than a change in the qualifications for a license. It may now be easier for some organized groups to qualify for a license, but I doubt that has contributed to any significant increase in the number of licensed travelers.
Not sure. It appears to me that there is a substantial increase in licensed groups. It seems quite easy to qualify under the new "people to people" or "cultural exchange" licenses. I even met a group from Memphis TN who were a hot rod club and got a license to exchange with people who drove classic cars in Cuba. Of course one could debate is that should be called "lax enforcement" or "change in qualifications" but I do think the result is a lot more people traveling with licenses.
I know several years ago there were 4 or 5 MIA-HAV flights per day and they mostly used twin engine turboprops. Now there are 8 flights per day using stretch 737s or 767s. They used to limit the number of passengers on the flight to be able to accommodate all the baggage weight. It appears they now fill up the plane with passengers if they can and use another airplane to carry all the baggage. And I am seeing more non Hispanic people on the flights I am on.
Mar 30, 2012 4:40 PM
11"Visitor numbers rose 7.3 percent last year after U.S. President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions and allowed people on religious and cultural exchanges to visit the island. Almost 285,000 Cuban-Americans and 21,000 U.S. citizens have travelled to Cuba since then, Trujillo said. "
Mar 30, 2012 5:08 PM
12John: Different numbers for sure. About 10% less in the total in the Bloomberg article than just flying from Miami in the one I cited. I have no idea which is the better number.
The 7.3% increase seems very low by my personal observations from number of flights and size of aircraft. But I certainly have nothing to back my thoughts up other than what I saw in 2011vs 2010.
Mar 30, 2012 5:17 PM
Mar 30, 2012 5:59 PM
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