1964 August 19

U.S. Group Returns from Illegal Visit to Cuba


Five Americans, who traveled to Cuba in violation of a U.S. prohibition on travel to that country, returned to the U.S. on this day, flying into New York City. They were part of a group of 84 people who spent two months in Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban Federation of University Students. They were not arrested, but the U.S. government did seize their passports. Another group of Americans had violated the ban on travel to Cuba in 1963; and on August 1, 1963, President John F. Kennedy publicly smeared them as “Communists.” The ban on travel to Cuba infringed on Americans’ right to travel and form their own opinions about those places.

One of those returning from this trip was Susan Rotolo, better known as Suze Rotolo, the companion of singer Bob Dylan. Suze is featured on the cover of Dylan’s album, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan (1963), and she tells about her role in organizing the Cuba trip in her memoirs (see below).

On December 17, 2014, after decades of hostility between the two countries, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would begin the process of normalizing relations between the two countries.

Learn more, read Suze Rotollos’s memoirs (which describe the Cuba trip): Suze Rotolo, A Freewheelin’ Time (2008)

Watch a video of Suze and Bob: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAPhdCAfoTs

Learn more about the history of U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba: https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL31139.pdf

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