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Monday, January 3, 2011

United States Cuba Policy - Travel Changes on the Horizon

Happy New Year to All - Late Breaking - Reliable sources to our blog advise an announcement on Cuba travel is imminent.  Over the last thirty days an intense debate and discussion have been ongoing at the White House, trying to make sense of the misleading information given to it by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fl), former Rep. Kendrick Meek (D- Fl), Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fl), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who had collectively urged the White House to suspend its intended announcement of new travel regulations allowing more travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens on the grounds that such an announcement would hurt the Democrats in November in Florida.  Given the "shellacking" President Obama took from the Republicans in the elections, especially in Florida, the credibility of this quartet on matters relating to U.S. Cuba relations was called into question by White House staff and advisers to the President.

The White House is expected to announce updates to current travel regulations expanding travel for academic and religious purposes as well expand the number of U.S. airports that can provide charter flights to Cuba.  Unfortunately, this announcement will not revert the travel regulations back to the successful people to people regulations of the Clinton era which pro-embargo hardliners fear.

We look forward to the announcement and will comment and analyze the new regulations when they are announced. - Tony Martinez

2 Comments:

Andrea Holbrook said...

Finally-- fingers crossed. Tony, can you comment further on what you think academic will mean? Currently, academic means basically semester long (10 weeks minimum, I believe) and only for credit. Would academic mean that shorter and not necessarily for-credit trips would be allowed?

Tony Martinez said...

Until the actual announcement is made and we can read what the regulations mean, I cannot speculate. It is my understanding though that the academic/educational aspect will improve from the current interpretations. It is unfortunate that OFAC has to be used as a political tool to keep coming up with different interpretations depending on who is in charge at the White House and the Congress.

Ultimately those who want an end to the travel restrictions have to become political and organized just like the hardliners are. We will win when that happens. There are many more of us than there are of them (even in Florida) and the travel restrictions are an insane policy counterproductive to everything our country is supposed to stand for and our relationship with the rest of Latin America