Monday, February 16, 2009

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

A bipartisan bill (HR 874) that would allow Americans to travel to Cuba was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 4, 2009. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act would prohibit the President of the United States from regulating or forbidding travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens and legal residents, except in times of war between the two countries or of imminent danger to public health or the safety of U.S. travelers.

Americans have been forbidden to travel to Cuba since the 1963 travel ban. And in 2004, former President Bush tightened the ban on Cuban-American travel.

Americans without family on the island are not permitted to travel unless sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, with a few exemptions for researchers and journalists. During his campaign, President Obama said he would ease back on Bush’s restrictions on travel to Cuba. “We’ve been engaged in a failed policy with Cuba for the last 50 years,” Obama proclaimed to a crowd while in Miami. He also promised “unrestricted rights” regarding travel to the island for Cuban-Americans – but it was unclear as to whether that would apply to other Americans. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act takes Obama’s promise one step further. The bill calls for ending the ban for all Americans, not just for those of Cuban origin.

Old Postcard: Havana, Cuba, in the 1930s