From January 1998 to April 2004, Travelocity booked nearly 1,500 trips between the US and Cuba, violating a trade embargo first laid down by the American government at the height of the Cold War.
The online travel site has agreed to pay a $182,750 fine to the US Treasury, but communism is still alive in the Western Hemisphere.
Last week, with a statement posted to its website, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that the Forth Worth, Texas company had agreed to settle "allegations" that it violated the 25 year-old Cuban Assets Control Regulations, making 1,458 Cuba-related travel arrangements without an official license. When contacted, a Travelocity spokesman acknowledged the violations, but blamed them on a technical malfunction - a technical malfunction that went unnoticed for six years.
"The trips to Cuba were unintentionally permitted to be booked by consumers online because of some technical failures several years ago and it's just now being finally settled with OFAC," she said. "Again, this is a very old matter - most of the trips were purchased between six and seven years ago. In no way did the company intend to allow bookings for trips to Cuba and the company has fully cooperated with OFAC and implemented corrective measures."
When pressed, the company refused to explain these technical failures. We have no way of knowing if the site was compromised by party members posing as capitalistic Travelocity employees.
We also contacted the OFAC, but it wasn't any help either. Spokesman Molly Millerwise bounced all questions back to Travelocity.
But she did say that those who have violated the Cuban trade embargo may face civil or criminal charges. And according the OFAC's original statement, Travelocity didn't voluntarily disclose its violation.
Is the Cold War back on? Draw your own conclusions. ®