New York Philharmonic cancels trip to Cuba

Posted on: October 5, 2009

In Friday’s (10/2) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes, “The New York Philharmonic scratched its trip to Cuba at the end of October because the United States government was barring a group of patrons from going along, the orchestra said on Thursday. Without them and their donations, the Philharmonic said, it could not afford the tour. About 150 board members and other donors had promised to pay $10,000 each to spend Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Havana, where the orchestra was to play two concerts, said Zarin Mehta, its president. The money was to have covered the cost of the proposed trip, which came at the invitation of the Cuban government. … Mr. Mehta said he had hoped that pressure applied by New York elected officials—including Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representatives Steve Israel and Charles B. Rangel, who have supported the trip — would help to have the decision overturned. ‘They haven’t been successful,’ he said. … The spokesman for the State Department, which guides the Treasury Department in deciding which Americans can go to Cuba, said the reason was simple. The sanctions on Cuba permit performing artists to enter, said the spokesman, P. J. Crowley, but ‘there’s no permitted category of travel that would include the Philharmonic patrons. Basically they’re tourists, and we don’t license tourist travel to Cuba under the present circumstances.’ ”

Posted October 5, 2009