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Change in Our Interest: Travel, Trade and Improved Relations with Cuba

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U.S.-Cuba relations have been at a standstill for many years, but momentum for change is developing.

On March 11th, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control authorized a general license for family travel to Cuba and expanded the definition of “family”, repealing the 2004 family travel restrictions put into place by the Bush administration.

The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations eliminated funding enforcement of the 2004 regulations on family travel, as well as for “cash-in-advance” provision that applies to all commercial sales of agricultural and medical supplies to Cuba. The omnibus also authorizes travel, on a general license, for individuals marketing or selling agricultural and medical goods to the island.

This is the first Cuba legislation to hit a U.S. president’s desk in more than 8 years.

In order for the United States to play a constructive role as Cubans determine their future, we need to engage with the people of Cuba and the Cuban government, in a variety of ways.  These might include bilateral talks on issues of mutual concern, action to permit closer ties between Cuban Americans and their families on the island, unfettered agricultural trade, expanded academic exchange, greater contact between faith communities, and unrestricted travel for all Americans.

The information included in this congressional education packet documents how existing restrictions on travel and trade harm the national interests of the United States, and why reforming this policy is consistent with our values, our economic interests and efforts to improve the U.S. image abroad.

We encourage you to use this information to talk to your representatives about making this important change in U.S.-Cuba policy.  The two bills called the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" are H.R. 874 in the House of Representatives and S. 428 in the Senate, ask your representative to Co-Sponsor these bills today.