U.S. Treasury “Frequently Asked Questions” update published June 4th, 2019

5. What are the travel authorizations in the Cuba program?
OFAC has issued general licenses within the 12 categories of authorized travel for many travel related transactions to, from, or within Cuba that previously required a specific license (i.e., an application and a case-by-case determination). Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to the criteria and conditions in each general license: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE ; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

4.1.19 Comment from Marie

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I wanted to let you know how much my husband and I enjoyed our very special visit to Cuba! And most important was that it was all possible because of Sandra Vazquez! She tirelessly organized this quest of mine to finally visit Cuba and view many beautiful paintings of my great, great grandfather, the 19th century Romantic landscape artist, Esteban Chartrand. She arranged private meetings with curators, professors and museum directors who knew much of my ancestors, and who generously shared their time and knowledge with us. She was with us for most of the visit to guide us, arrange the tours and drivers, translate and share all the wonderful discoveries and surprises with us! We are grateful for her friendship, and cherish our incredible memories of the unbelievable places we visited, the wonderful and loving people we met and the beautiful art we viewed.

Leah Garchik

Features Columnist San Francisco Chronicle

28th August, 2018

In 1967, while the war in Vietnam was raging, Tom Miller, who was practicing law in New York, read a report by MarthaGellhorn about the effects of napalm on the Vietnamese, especially children. He left his New York law practice to become a founder of Children’s Medical Relief International, a nonprofit with the aim of establishing a hospital in Vietnam.

By 1969, after two years of operation in temporary headquarters, Miller and physician and Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran Arthur Barsky had overseen the construction of the Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a modern medical facility that treated victims of bombing and napalm, as well as children born with birth defects as a result of the use of Agent Orange. It was that center that treated Kim Phuc, the girl pictured running from her burning village during the war.

In 1973, Miller was working with victims in Vietnam when he met Tran Tuong Nhu. They were married that year. (And she later became press secretary to Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown.) They’re planning to travel to Vietnam next spring to mark the 50th anniversary of the center, and are raising money through Green Cities Fund (greencitiesfund.org) to buy equipment and support for what’s become a national teaching hospital.

The facility recently expanded from two floors to 11, one of which will be dedicated in honor of Miller and Dr. Barsky.

TRACY

Sandra was a wonderful guide for the four of us Americans, because she is a happy, cheerful, honest, person who know Havana like the back of her hand. The four of us who hired her wanted to take her home with us. She’s just lovable.

She really knows good restaurants and good food in Havana, which took us by surprise, and she arranged for an amazing tour (by a curator) to the Art Museum. She was also willing to make arrangements on the go, which was very important as our group didn’t want to be locked into a plan. We recommend her highly.

JONATHAN and JOYCE

We had an amazing trip under the aegis of Green Cities. Cuba is wondrous, but especially so due to the fantastic organizing by Sandra Vazquez and her wonderful family and team on the ground in Havana. Sandra knows everyone and can arrange anything. We are by nature stubbornly independent travelers, but putting ourselves fully in Sandra’s hands gave us keen insight into Havana’s history, architecture, art, music,  food and more. Perhaps most important, she and her team are fun, engaging and smart. We cannot recommend Sandra and the Green Cities cultural-exchange organization highly enough, and are plotting a return to Cuba in the future.

Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam

This sad history returns because of Bob Kerrey’s appointment as chairman of the American-sponsored Fulbright University Vietnam, the country’s first private university. That appointment has also prompted the Vietnamese to debate how former enemies can forgive and reconcile.

What is not in dispute is that in 1969 a team of Navy SEALs, under a young Lieutenant Kerrey’s command, killed 20 unarmed Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, in the village of Thanh Phong. Mr. Kerrey, who later became a senator, a governor, a presidential candidate and a university president, acknowledged his role in the atrocity in his 2002 memoir, “When I Was a Young Man.”

Those in the United States and Vietnam who favor Mr. Kerrey’s appointment see it as an act of reconciliation: He has confessed, he deserves to be forgiven because of his efforts to aid Vietnam, and his unique and terrible history makes him a potent symbol for how both countries need to move on from their common war.

To read more of this article, click here.

Meleah & Kate

Dear Tom,
We wanted to follow up with you as we very much appreciated your and
Sandra’s assistance on our trip to Cuba. We had such an eye-opening
experience and I feel like we got a very good slice of Cuban life.
Sandra was great- she picked us up from the airport in a shiny blue
car and helped us exchange money, and then our casa particulares were
comfortable and different from each other in ways that were
interesting and broadened the depth of our experience. We also really
appreciated Sandra connecting us with Omar whose apartment we rented
and who was also a very gracious host by having coffee with us and
drove us to the beach near Havana and gave us the skinny on several
aspects of Cuban life, including the boteros. We got to have coffee
one morning with Sandra and her son and her mother, which felt like we
were already part of the family. We indeed felt that we got the
people-to-people experience (even though they didn’t even check at
U.S. Customs and just asked us how Mexico was!).
Thank you for your help, and we would continue to recommend having
Sandra be a contact as she was a delight, was very helpful,
knowledgable and friendly. Her English is beautiful and we threw a
couple of random questions at her the last day about places to see an
Afro Cuban dance and she had some recommendations as well as called
around for us. She also recommended a place to see live jazz that was
also in our tour book and recommended by a friend.
We hope that the across-the-country converted bus with Cuban food
project goes smoothly! Just so you know, we have told a bunch of
people about our excellent experience with your company and
recommended you as a wonderful way to access Cuba! 🙂

Thank you so
much!
All the best,
Meleah & Kate

Create Wealth – San Francisco Chronicle Letters to the Editor, March 30, 2016

Regarding “Fidel spurns Obama’s presents” (March 29): Fidel Castro’s critique of President Obama’s Havana speech correctly concludes that Cuba is “…capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with the work and intelligence of our people.” What Cuba needs to do (and Fidel Castro would no doubt agree) is find a way to unleash the work and intelligence of its people. Cubans’ biggest complaint is that they are tied down by a bureaucracy that prevents them from creating wealth.

TOM MILLER, Oakland

The writer is president of Green Cities Fund, which sponsors humanitarian development projects in Cuba and Vietnam.

Cuba’s Economy – San Francisco Chronicle Letters to the Editor, March 23, 2016

Regarding “Beyond a half century of futility” (Editorial, March 22):

President Raul Castro is correct when he claimed Cuba has no political prisoners as short term “detentions” are now used to control dissent. What Cubans complain of the most, however, is the moribund state-controlled economy that kills incentive. Understandably, Cuba fears opening the floodgates to capitalism which could result in an oligarchy as exists in Russia (and the United States), but it must find a way to open its economy to the energy and creativity of its people.

TOM MILER, Oakland

The writer is president of Green Cities Fund, which sponsors humanitarian development projects in Cuba and Vietnam.