The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 72/No. 12      March 24, 2008

U.S. government orders
websites for Cuba travel to close
(front page)
By order of the U.S. government, at least 59 websites belonging to a British Virgin Islands-based travel agency that books Caribbean vacations for Europeans have been shut down. The move is part of Washington’s decades-long “cold war” against Cuba.

The British-owned company, Tour and Marketing International, has offices in the British Virgin Islands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Cuba is one of many destinations the company books tour packages to. Its websites were registered with U.S.-based domain registrar eNom, which controls more than 10 million website names around the world.

In December 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department added the agency and its website domains to a “specially designated nationals & blocked persons” (SDN) list. By law, U.S. citizens and residents are forbidden from doing business with and compelled to freeze the assets of anyone on the list.

A Treasury Department statement at the time said the action was taken as part of Washington’s ongoing effort to “choke off dollars steaming to the [Fidel] Castro regime and make it more difficult for the Cuban government to harden its internal security and military infrastructure.”

In October eNom pulled the plug on several of the company’s sites, including,,, and The sites had operated since 1998.

Steve Marshall, a British travel agent living in Spain, runs the sites. He told the New York Times that eNom said they blocked his domains after receiving a call from the Treasury Department; the domain registrar said they learned the sites were on the SDN list through a blog.

Marshall was given no notice. “I came to work in the morning, and we had no reservations,” he said. “We thought it was a technical problem.” He has been rebuilding his business using a European domain registrar and new website names. Many of same sites now end with the .net suffix, instead of .com. If he wants his websites removed from the list, he would have to appeal to the Treasury Department.

The public SDN list currently fingers more than 3,700 individuals, companies, and vessels, 360 of which are linked to Cuba. According to the Washington, D.C., law firm Wiley Rien LLP, the Treasury Department “has a track record of non-public designations” as well. Penalties for doing business with a company or person on the list accused of a connection with “terrorism” can reach as high as $10 million and 30 years in jail.

Many of the thousands of names and aliases on the blacklist are common, particularly Muslim, names. Like the government’s “no-fly list,” the SDN list has generated criticism from civil libertarians and legal professionals, including over numerous cases of mistaken identity.
Related articles:
Cuban student federation educates youth on history of revolutions, lessons for today
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