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updated: 10/8/2012 11:48 AM

U.S.-Cuba culture trips back on as licenses renewed

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Associated Press

MIAMI -- Travel companies say they are getting permits once again to take Americans on cultural trips to Cuba after the U.S. government tightened requirements over complaints that the tours were skirting a ban on outright tourism to the Communist island.

At least 20 have been granted a month after U.S. travel companies reported delays in processing their so-called people-to-people licenses for legal group travel to Cuba.

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Travel operators say they have kept most of their itineraries intact, but some have added additional programming and eliminated others after Florida's Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the programs as essentially being cover-ups for tourism.

The Obama administration reinstituted the licenses over a year ago, allowing organizations to take U.S. citizens to the forbidden island for educational activities that promote contact with ordinary Cubans.

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