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U.S. Travelers to Cuba May Face Legal Challenge During Obama’s Visit

The Cuban government has issued a request to move all US tourists out of Havana hotels during the President Obama's trip.

While US President Barack Obama will travel to the communist Caribbean nation of Cuba for the first time in decades this March, one legal challenge has been posed for U.S. visitors. The Cuban regime has issued a request to move out all US tourists groups staying in Havana area hotels during the trip.

The tourists will be shuttled to the nearby resort town of Varadero.

This may pose a legal challenge as U.S. citizens are forbidden by U.S. law to visit the country outside of Havana.  The Cuban government has not recognized any legal U.S. laws in regards to the U.S.’ tourism restrictions on traveling the island. U.S. laws can penalize U.S. citizens traveling outside of Havana with prison terms ranging from four to 30 years.

The U.S. Department of State does allow cultural travel to Havana Cuba as part of the December 2014 relationship’s announcement.  However, as part of the 1960’s embargo to the island, no U.S. citizen is allowed to travel to Cuba for a holiday stay.  The State Department designated that U.S. travelers can only stay around Havana and their trip should only be considered as part of a cultural exchange.

According to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s tentative plans to visit Cuba before mid-March for a human rights dialogue were also canceled Thursday because of deep negotiations on issues Obama might see in Havana.

“The Secretary is still interested in visiting in the near future, and we are working with our Cuban counterparts and our embassy to determine the best timeframe,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

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