Can You Do Your Part to Support Travel to Cuba?

Remember in 2011 when we convinced President Obama to issue an executive order that liberalized the United States' Cuba travel regulations? This action expanded general licenses for academic and religious travel and re-instated specific licenses for people-to-people travel. Well, we want to push the envelope even further this time and see President Obama grant general licenses for ALL purposeful categories of travel, doing away with the laborious license application process through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This would eliminate the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that prevents licensable travel to Cuba from actually happening. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA 20th) is leading this charge by circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to members of the House of Representatives, asking them to join him in signing a letter to the President asking just that.

 

Contact your House Representative TODAY to encourage her/him to sign on to Rep. Farr's letter that supports granting general licenses for all of the current categories of travel to Cuba.

While we have several priorities this year when it comes to Cuba policy work, the next logical step that President Obama could take is (as the letter says) "[exercise his] executive authority to allow all current categories of permissible travel, including people-to-people, to be carried out under the general license."

You can do YOUR part by clicking here to send a message to your member of Congress, asking her/him to sign Rep. Farr's letter to the President.

Now is the time! A year from now will be too late, as the country will already be in "election" mode and members of Congress will be thinking about what they can and can't do to get re-elected. Sad, but true. It won't happen without you. Your voice is important to your member's vote and her/his priorities. Contact Congress now and make this a priority.

Below is a copy of the "Dear Colleague" and the letter to President Obama. It is crucial that we act now to move forward with U.S.-Cuba policy before the opportunity is lost.


Support Travel to Cuba

From: The Honorable Sam Farr

Sent By:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Date: 3/21/2013

Cosigners (10): Castor, Yvette Clarke, DeLauro, Farr, Hank Johnson, Lee, McGovern, Schakowsky, Serrano, Rangel

Dear Colleague:

Over the past four years, President Obama has issued a series of policy changes aimed at bringing US-Cuba relations into the 21st century. Please join me in signing this letter thanking the President for these policy changes and encouraging him to take the next step by using his executive authority to allow all categories of permissible travel to be carried out under a general license.

In 2009, President Obama announced Reaching Out to the Cuban People, a set of policy changes that fully restored the rights of Cuban-Americans to visit their families in Cuba and send them unlimited remittances. This has resulted in the reunification of hundreds of thousands of families and has provided the capital for Cubans to take advantage of economic reforms in Cuba and start their own businesses.

In 2011, President Obama took another important step by reauthorizing purposeful travel for all Americans, fostering meaningful people-to-people interaction between American and Cuban citizens. But these trips require a specific license granted to specialized travel service providers. Unfortunately, the licensing process has reportedly been expensive, slow, cumbersome, and arbitrary, causing delays and – in some cases cancellations- of trips that enable Americans to exercise their right to purposeful travel to Cuba.

Please join me in signing this letter encouraging President Obama to resolve this problem by allowing all current categories of permissible travel, including people-to-people, to be carried out under a general license.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Caitie Whelan (  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) in my office.

Sincerely,

SAM FARR JAN SCHAKOWSKY

Member of Congress Member of Congress

YVETTE CLARKE ROSA DELAURO

Member of Congress Member of Congress

KATHY CASTOR CHARLES B. RANGEL

Member of Congress Member of Congress

________________________________________

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We are writing on the fourth anniversary of Reaching Out to the Cuban People to thank you for instituting unlimited family travel to Cuba and eliminating restrictions on remittances by Cuban-Americans for their families. These changes have helped Cubans heal the wounds of generations and fostered the ability of untold thousands of Cubans to live more economically independent lives. Now, it is time to fully support American citizens' purposeful travel to Cuba, and we encourage you to allow all current categories of permissible travel, including people-to-people, to be carried out under a general license.

Since the final Reaching Out to the Cuban People regulations were adopted on September 3, 2009, hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans have taken advantage of this opportunity to reunite with family every year. Moreover, as economic reforms in Cuba have opened opportunities for Cuban citizens to leave state jobs and work in small enterprises, family remittances have provided the capital for Cubans to start their own businesses. In addition, your decision in 2011 to open some categories of travel for all Americans has been an important step towards enabling civil society in both countries to become acquainted and work together in areas from science and environmental protection to religion, culture, and art.

Changes have occurred in Cuba, as well. Namely, in January of this year, Cuba rescinded restrictions on most Cubans' foreign travel, including to the United States – a step the US and others have encouraged the island nation to do for many years. This action gives your Administration a predicate for doing more. Exercising your executive authority to allow all current categories of permissible travel, including people-to-people, to be carried out under the general license is the next logical step.

This action would speed the processes you have already unleashed: increasing opportunities for engagement and reconciliation, while also helping Cubans create more jobs and opportunities to further expand their independence.

Thank you for your commitment to bringing our foreign policy into the 21st century and promoting diplomacy through the best resource our country has to offer: the American people.

 
 
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