New Treasury Department Regulations about Travel to Cuba:
(AN ATTACK ON THE MEDICAL SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM?)
DATE: June 23, 2004
This memo is to inform you about new U.S. regulations governing travel to
These regulations may have direct bearing on the U.S. students who are
studying medicine in Cuba. Therefore, this memo will also outline what you
can do to help prevent an interruption of this wonderful scholarship program.
Please give your immediate and urgent attention to this matter. It is
important that all families of our students and friends of IFCO/P4P join
with us in protesting these unfair and mean-spirited regulations.
Last week President Bush directed the implementation of new and even more
stringent sanctions against Cuba. Among these new and revised sanctions are
certain changes which, in our view, constitute a direct attack on the
scholarship opportunity which Cuba has extended to 500 U.S. students to
study medicine in Cuba.
Some general comments about the regulations are in order.
1. We cannot overlook the racist implications of Bushs actions. Almost 80
(soon to be 100) African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native
Americans and poor white students are faced with the loss of their medical
careers. In the first place, they could not afford to pursue their dreams
of becoming doctors in the U.S. Now their own government is telling them
that they cannot accept a full scholarship from Cuba. Bush has said that
this cruel policy is part of his program to "hasten Cuba's transition to a
democratic society." Well, these changes don't sound very democratic to us.
2. These regulations were formulated behind closed doors, without
opportunity for prior expressions of any points of view other than those
selected because of their extreme views about U.S. policy toward Cuba.
3. They are "Interim Regulations." Although they are scheduled to go into
effect on June 30, 2004, the period for public comment expires on August
15, 2004. IT IS EXTREMELY URGENT that you send your comments protesting
these new regulations to OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the
U.S. Treasury Department, which is the office in charge of enforcement of
the sanctions against Cuba).
We need to let OFAC know that we consider these new regulations to be
grossly unfair and unreasonable, highly arbitrary, and overly punitive.
They inflict hardships on several categories of persons.
We are especially concerned about the punitive effects of these new
regulations on the U.S. students at the Latin American School of Medicine;
whose only interest is the noble desire to become medical doctors so they
can come back home to the U.S. and serve as doctors in the indigent
communities they come from. Depriving our students of the opportunity to
study in Cuba does nothing to bring about any objectives of the Regulations
or of any legitimate interests of U.S. foreign policy.
4. In the past, students who lived and studied in Cuba on full scholarships
paid for by persons not subject to U.S. jurisdiction were not violating the
embargo and its regulations, even without seeking a specific license. In
general, the fact that the students were living and studying in Cuba fell
within the category of "fully hosted travel."
UNDER THE NEW REGULATIONS THE FULLY HOSTED CATEGORY IS REMOVED AND OFAC NOW
CONSIDERS IT ILLEGAL FOR A U.S. CITIZEN TO ACCEPT A GIFT -- INCLUDING
SCHOLARSHIP, ROOM, BOARD, ETC. FROM CUBA.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We must immediately mount a major campaign to insist that our students be
exempt from US Treasury licensing requirements for their travel to and
study in Cuba because they are engaging in full-time study and incurring no
expenses in Cuba.
We urge you to make 4 calls and to write two letters:
First, call your senators, then call your U.S. representative.
In each case call 202-224-3121 and ask for your senators and representative
by name. You will be connected to her/his office. Then ask to talk to the
staff person who works on Cuban affairs or foreign policy.
The fourth call should be to Kevin Whitaker, head of the Cuba Desk at the
U.S. State Department and his phone number is 202-647-9272.
Secondly, we need you to write a letter and mail it to:
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20220
Request for Comments and then fax it to : 202-622-1657
Please, also send a second letter to:
The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
The points you make when you write the letters and make the phone calls
should be your own words. Speak from your heart! Talk about how these new
regulations dash the hopes of youngsters from our communities. Be sure to
let them know that we see these "Interim Regulations" as attacks on a
wonderful opportunity and on our hopes for better health care.
These "Interim Regulations" won't hurt Cuba but they will hurt Black and
Latino communities. Be strong; be forceful; be honest; logic and justice
are on our side. Make a passionate plea for an exemption of the US students
so that they can continue their education
Thank you -- the students thank you -- and the communities they will serve
"Let us not love in word: but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18
IFCO/Pastors for Peace
402 W 145th Street, New York, NY 10031
212-926-5757; fax: 212-926-5842; web: http://www.ifconews.org