Three Harvard students planning a group trip to Cuba over Christmas vacation have asked the State Department if it will validate student passports for the journey.
Sources in Washington said the request had been forwarded to the Justice Department. It is assumed that the federal officials wish to investigate the back-ground of the three students before any reply is made.
Unlike the 59 students who visited Cuba without permission this summer, the three undergraduates stressed that "we have only an objective interest in Cuba."
"Politically, we're innocuous," Fitzhugh S.M. Mullan '64 said. "We have no intention of letting the Castro government pay for any of our expenses. We hope merely to establish ties with Cuban students in an effort to reopen channels of student communication."
The students have not asked for University support in their effort to obtain State Department clearance. Several Faculty members, however, have expressed tentative support for the project. "As a private citizen, I would favor this student effort," William S. Barnes, director of inter-American studies, said.
"Since Cubans have been out of contact with Americans for so long," he added "they have had no unbiased report of the United States point of view. The learning involved here, I assume, would be a two-way affair--Cubans should know what Americans are thinking, and we should have an unemotional account of exactly what has happened there."
The two other students involved in the project are Peter H. Darrow '64 and King W.W. Harris '65. All three are in Leverett House. Although they would prefer to make the trip during Christmas, Harris said, "we are also willing to go during spring vacation. In fact, we'll go after exams if permission comes through."
Would Fell Leftists
Darrow pointed out that State Department support for this trip would "render unnecessary" the plans of leftist students who island to duty the travel ban by visiting Cuba illegally this summer.
"We are not Castro propagandists," Darrow said, "but we do believe students with a legitimate interest should be allowed to see what has been done on the island. If the State Department ban keeps us from estimating accurately how popular communion is, it can only be self-defeating in the end.