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Is Cuba effectively open to US anglers? There is a lot of talk to that effect in the wake of the Obama Ad- ministration’s move last month to loosen restrictions on travel to the island nation by Americans with close relatives in Cuba. What’s sparked all the talk is the way the restrictions were loosened – namely, the US Congress cut off funding for the enforcement of that part of the Cuba travel ban that deals with Cuban Americans. Seems some observers have jumped to the conclusion that all funding for enforcement of the Cuban travel ban has been cut off.

Not so. We have that directly from Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury Department Office that manages the Cuban Sanctions Program. Ms Heather Wong at OFAC gave us that interpretation in no uncertain terms.

To be sure, Ms Wong did not return our repeated calls, preferring to communicate via Blackberry, so we did not have an opportunity to inquire just how funding for part of the ban can be slashed and not for others. In truth, overall enforcement has probably been de-emphasized, given the stated interest of the Obama Administration in lifting the ban entirely. This does not mean we are suggesting that anyone ignore the continuing ban on travel to Cuba, however. It’s still officially illegal for Americans to go to Cuba, and a lot of things can still go wrong before the door to Cuba is finally open. Things like the Russians shopping for a place in Latin America to base strategic bombers. And, more likely still, things like Raoul Castro getting cold feet at the prospect of an invasion of American tourists. In the past, it has been largely Cuba’s fault that negotiations to end the travel ban have failed. Stay tuned….

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