Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Cuba: New rules smack businesses silly

Nearly a month after the U.S. government clamped down on travel to Cuba, local air charter companies say their businesses have been decimated, passengers have yet to receive new licenses required for travel and thousands have voiced their opinions to the Treasury Department about the proposed new rules.

The new rules, which caught many by surprise when they were published June 16, only allow Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba once every three years and reduce the list of relatives on the island that they can get government permission to visit.

"Today is the 24th day of the [new] regulations, and not one Cuban-American has been able to travel because the Treasury Department has not issued any -- zero -- licenses," said Xael Charters owner Eddie Levy on Friday. Levy, who had already laid off 14 of his 16 full-time employees, says his business has been paralyzed.

Treasury Department official Juan Zarate, in town this week to meet with local federal officials, said his office has received more than 2,000 comments about the new regulations.
No, indeed. Freedom is not free. Amongst other things, sometimes the price is blood; sometimes it is money.

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