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Obama Lifts Some Cuba Travel Restrictions

3 years ago
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NEW YORK – The Obama administration has ended some restrictions on Americans' travel to Cuba, but let the nearly 50-year-old embargo stand.
The White House said Friday that the changes would allow travel to Cuba by academic, religious and cultural groups. But restrictions remain in place on tourist travel to the island. The president also expanded the number of airports that can serve the Cuban market. Most travel to Cuba from the United States originates in Miami and New York.
The administration had been expected to make the changes months ago but did not want to announce them before the mid-term elections and during a time when American Alan Gross, a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was detained in Havana, the New York Times reported.
Some U.S. travel restrictions for Cuba liftedThe new rules, which end restrictions put in place by President George W. Bush, will also allow Americans to send money to Cubans, except for members of the Castro government and the Communist Party.
"This is an important step forward for our Cuba policy," Sarah Stephens, director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas, said in a statement. "At a time when Cubans are changing their system in fundamental ways, it is a good idea to have greater engagement, more Americans traveling to Cuba, and more opportunities to learn from each other as every day Cubans reshape their lives and their country. We will continue to press for the freedom to travel to Cuba for all Americans."
The White House, which apparently wanted little fanfare, announced the new rules late on Friday afternoon when many members of Congress had left Washington for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
But opponents of travel to Cuba immediately spoke out against Obama's executive order.
"Loosening these regulations will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who is the new chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Cuban-born and an anti-Castro hardliner, Ros-Lehtinen is expected to be an influential voice as her panel considers comprehensive legislation to do away with the travel ban. Separately, newly elected Sen. Marco Rubio, also a Florida Republican and the child of Cuban exiles, opposed the change in the travel rules.
Rules explaining the new policy will be issued in weeks.

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11 Comments

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sgtsmako

So Cuba is an evil communist dictatorship that throws people in prison for what they might be thinking, they are bad and we should only have limited contact with them, right? Anyone want to go to China? Name your destination and book your travel through any travel agency. It's not like they are an evil communist dictatorship that throws people in prison for what they might be thinking.

March 05 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
firstad

"What was done is done? War sucks and poeple lose vested interests all the time when they are in the way of the new regime." The US will not forget what happened, and neither will the Palestinians. Funny how those grumpy groups won't give up the bone.

January 22 2011 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rowan

I support free travel to Cuba. I see no reason to "punish" the people of Cuba by denying them the benefits of an American tourist trade simply because our government has had issue with their government. As others have noted, America has long had commerce with countries who operate under a governmental form different from our democratic republic; I don't see where Cuba should be the exception.

As for the restoration of properties seized by the Castro administration; I don't see that happening. Plain and simple -- war sucks and people lose vested interests all the time when they are "in the way" of the new regime. There's no point holding onto resentments and past grievances. What was done is done; now it is the time for Cubans (both in Cuba and in the U.S.) to move forward in an effort to create a better country for themselves and their descendents.

And... if the thought of increased trade and humanitarian outreach is not enough to sway the skeptics, then what about the old adage, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer"? Cuba is only 90 miles off of our southern-most shores. Russia and China have too long had influence on Cuba. It's time that the U.S. stepped into the party.

January 16 2011 at 9:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

When did Cuba give back all the property it stole from American businesses, its casinos, its banks, etc.??????

January 15 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dc walker's comment
Tom

Oh, you mean the ones from organized American crime families and their ilk?

January 16 2011 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
linmarco

We do business with China so why not Cuba? They are both dictatorships. The only difference is China lets us come in and make money. Cuba won't. Cuba expropriated
land from its citizens when Castro came to power. Many of them came here and are
still angry as they should be. China marched into Tibet, took over, and is still there. They have told Taiwan if it declares its independence they will attack it.
One suspects Taiwan would give them a bloody nose. They also lay claim to the Spratley islands. But Wal-Mart is cleaning up there. We complain about China and then buy its goods. Solve that one. The world won't end if we start doing business with Cuba.

January 15 2011 at 3:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

I was very glad to hear Obama lifted some of the Cuba restrictions. Punishing a nation's citizens for the rogue behavior of its rulers is never going to do any good. However, it is also important to ensure anything that monetarily or otherwise benefits a nation's people is not stolen by its government.

January 15 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tistolaugh's comment
harjacobhar

it didnt do any good as I see it. Castro is still in power, and the cubans who stay in cuba seem to love him. Oh and PS - they have universal health care with better life expectancy outcomes then USA - go figure.

January 15 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

Harjacob, how do you know it didn't do any good when it took place just hours ago? Being able to receive financial assistance from relatives in America can help it's mostly poor citizens immensely. And the adequacy of their healthcare system is very unreliable with constant ups and downs and the system suffers a great shortage of medical supplies.

January 15 2011 at 3:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hello, Elbert

We don't do business with Castro government and the Communist Party but, everything brought and used in the United States is made in Communist China. Mr President I know your making strides to show this country is not the hypocrits many believe we are.

January 15 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Well, how nice for Cuba. Now we can send tons more money out of the country. Why doesn't the President do something great for the American people, and lift the moratorium on oil drilling. Oh yeah, I forgot. The American taxpayers sent a couple billion to Brazil so they could further develop THEIR oil drilling industry. We aren't allowed.........too bad for the environment. Guess Brazil will leave a smaller footprint.

January 15 2011 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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