Thank you, Mr. President. After this summer’s buzzing rumors regarding some kind of White House action, the Obama Administration has today announced new regulations governing U.S. citizen travel to Cuba. It is a large step forward, and comes in the wake of a disappointing missed opportunity by the Congress to change the law. We congratulate the White House on their forward-looking decision. And we congratulate all of you for the hard and dedicated work you contributed to this achievement. Thank you, Cuba Advocates!
Here’s what we understand new travel regulations will do (check out our blog next week for specifics and/or revisions):
- Expand purposeful travel by providing general licenses for religious, educational/academic, and cultural travel to Cuba;
- Provide specific licenses for people-to-people travel similar to the licenses that were provided from 1999-2003;
- Allow for non-family remittances of $500/quarter for private entrepreneurial activities, cultural activities, etc. – such remittances may not be provided to senior members of the Cuban government or members of the Communist Party; and
- Expand charter flights from the United States to include all U.S. international airports (i.e. all U.S. international airports may apply to have charter flights depart from their site).
Last August, rumors circulated among major news sources, such as TIME Magazine, New York Times, Miami Herald, and Bloomberg News that expanding travel regulations to allow for people-to-people travel was on the horizon. The rumors have now been put to rest, and we can soon anticipate expanded travel opportunities once the regulations are published in the Federal Register (in a couple of weeks) and after a two-month comment period has been completed. We clearly see this announcement by the White House as very positive step in the right direction, and we look forward to a surge in travel to Cuba and a move to encourage the Congress to finish the job and actually change the law.
More contact between citizens from our two countries serves the interests of everyone. We should all take time to celebrate this action by the Obama Administration, and let’s begin making our travel plans! We hope that soon the Congress will see the wisdom of taking further steps to open travel to Cuba for ALL U.S. citizens.