Friday, April 25, 2014

Cuban government halts some travelers to island

Posted on Thursday, 04.24.14

Cuban government halts some travelers to island

The Cuban government has suddenly blocked the arrival of Cubans from
abroad whose passports lack a required validation, angering dozens of
travelers who were stopped at Miami International Airport and others
halted after they landed in Havana.

A notice from Havanatour, a state-run travel agency, dated Thursday said
that as of that same day authorities in Havana would no longer accept
the arrivals of travelers whose Cuban passports lack a valid "prorroga,"
or extension.

Cuban passports are valid for six years but require "prorrogas" every
two years. Until Thursday, Cuba had allowed the arrival of travelers
without a valid extension — though required them to obtain them once in
Havana — because of problems at its consulate in Washington.

The consulate closed all its consular services that require paid fees,
such as the extensions, visas and new passports, on Feb. 17 after its
M&T Bank in Buffalo, N.Y., shut down all the accounts it held for all
foreign consulates.

Havanatour's announcement gave no reason for the sudden change, said
Maria Brieva, owner of the Machi travel agency in Miami, and threatened
to fine any travel agents that allowed persons without the proper
documents to board flights for the island.

Some travelers with tickets to Cuba on Thursday were stopped at MIA
before they could board their flights, according to travel agency
workers. Others on early morning flights boarded their flights and
arrived in Cuba, but were not allowed to leave the airport.

The disruption Thursday was the first visible impact of the decision by
the Cuban consulate in Washington to halt its services — except for
humanitarian cases — although Miami Cubans say they know of many others
with expired passports who have not been able to travel.

Until now, the numbers of U.S. travelers to the island had been holding
steady, according to travel industry sources. Many Cuban Americans have
multiple-entry visas to return to their home country, and U.S. companies
offering trips to non-Cuban Americans on so-called people-to-people
visits said they usually plan more than six months ahead.

Source: Cuban government halts some travelers to island - Cuba - -

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