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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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March 2005 Vol. 20, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The High Cost of Cuban Diving

from the March, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Itís not the price of the dive boat thatíll put a crimp your pocketbook; itís that nasty fine imposed by the U.S. government upon reentry! While travel to Cuba has been banned for decades, for years the restriction was loosely enforced, allowing divers a chance to explore Cubaís reefs by making a quick detour through countries like Canada or Mexico. The Cubans didnít stamp passports, and as long as you took the Cuban baggage stickers off your dive bag and smoked your cigars before you got home, there were few worries. However, over the last four years the Bush administration has been steadily clamping down on Cuban travel, and penalties have now reached onerous levels. Travelers caught today risk fines of up to $65,000 per person plus a chance to add their names to a decidedly unchic social register: the Homeland Security watch list.

Some of the cases of divers caught in the crackdown have started working their way into court. Craig Ostrem (Edina, MN) booked a dive trip through Canada in Jan./Feb. of 1999, returning with two bottles of rum, some candy, and artwork valued at $30. He was caught upon reentry and fined $7,500. Last month a judge softened that fine to $780 ó certainly a relief, although itís unclear whether Ostremís name has joined Cat Stevensí in the Homeland Security database.

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