NLG Cuba Subcommittee Pledges to provide legal assistance to US travelers to Cuba, in support of their right to travel

For Immediate Release, June 16, 2017:

In light of President Trump’s Miami announcement today, seeking to further curtail the right of U.S. residents and citizens to travel to Cuba, the Cuba Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild reiterates its longstanding support for the right to travel, and pledges to continue to provide legal assistance to U.S. travelers to Cuba.

The NLG through its Cuba subcommittee has been providing legal assistance to U.S. travelers to Cuba for decades, working in the past with the Center for Constitutional Rights. This included during the first six years of the administration of George W. Bush, which initiated an enforcement regime, including a series of “trials for travel,” held in Washington, D.C.  In response, the NLG Cuba SC established a national network of lawyers in 2000 to counsel and advise potential and returning U.S. travelers to Cuba. In the face of civil disobedience and other opposition, all formal enforcement actions effectively stopped by the end of 2006. However, both before and after that, U.S. travelers have faced the fear of both civil and criminal penalties.

“We do not know what kind of enforcement this new administration may attempt, to chill or penalize U.S. residents for exercising their right to travel,” stated Atty. Arthur Heitzer who chairs NLG Cuba Subcommittee, “but we need to be prepared.” Heitzer noted that the government could attempt to go back five years to penalize recent travelers to Cuba, and that no new regulations have yet been issued, nor are they promised sooner than “in the coming months.”

Heitzer quoted a publication issued today by U.S. Department of the Treasury, stating explicitly  that “The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel.” Heitzer added that any such “group” travel which it intends to allow, will be subject to having an on-site “agent” of the U.S.-based sponsoring entity to monitor the schedule for “each traveler” “Corralling U.S. travelers into groups with a U.S. ‘minder’ is antithetical to the proclamation that these restrictions are issued in order to uphold freedom,” Heitzer asserted.

For more information, contact the Cuba Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild at (414) 273-1040 ext. 12; email its chair at artheitzer@gmail.com, or visit http://www.nlginternational.org/cuba-subcommittee/.

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