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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 29, 2004

[ ... ]

QUESTION: This is on Cuba and the new travel restrictions and all that stuff. There's been a real lot of chaos at the Miami Airport with Cuban-Americans trying to reach the island before the deadline of June 30th. I understand some of the travel restrictions have been extended. Could you help flesh this out a little bit?

MR. ERELI: What's the -- I don't know, what's the question?

QUESTION: Well, the question is: Could you talk a little bit about the travel restrictions that are ending -- that are starting today vis--vis getting down to Cuba? And I understand there's been an extension to come back by July 31st; is that right?

MR. ERELI: Well, let me see what I -- if I can help clarify things.

On June 15th, we published new travel regulations that required travelers in Cuba on family visits to return by June 30th. In response to those regulations, travelers expressed concern -- travelers and others expressed concern that they may not be able to get back in time. So, as a result of that, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of Treasury, on June 25th, extended the deadline to July 31st for family travelers.

So now, instead of having to return by June 30th, they have until July 31st to return and we took this action in order to ensure that the return travel would be safe and orderly.

QUESTION: What about -- what about -- should a traveler that's here, do they have -- they have until June 30th to leave for Cuba? I think that's what the chaos is today in Miami, that all the Cuban-Americans are trying to reach Cuba before the -- before tomorrow's deadline.

MR. ERELI: Our view on that is that, given the fact that we're -- the new regulations are restrictive of travel, that going down and coming back before July 30th would be inconsistent with our new policy, which is to reduce the hard flow of currency to the Castro regime, and that it would be inconsistent with the intent of the extension to July 31st, which was to ensure that travelers could come and go in an orderly and safe fashion. So the idea of somehow you've got an extra window so let's rush to get in there and rush to get out is not consistent with the spirit of the extension, the original extension.

QUESTION: Not consistent with the spirit of extension, but is it illegal to do that or just --

MR. ERELI: I don't have a -- I'm not in a position to give you a legal ruling on it.

QUESTION: You just don't think that they should be --

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: -- to be honorable American citizens?

MR. ERELI: It's not a question of being honorable American citizens. It's to be -- to comply with the spirit of the regulations.

[ ... ]

[ End ]