Pastel houses and white beaches
For many Americans, Cuba is a land of mystery. You may think of rum, cigars, old cars, and socialism. Of course there’s much more than that – a whole country full of culture and history.
But American tourists haven’t been permitted to travel to Cuba for nearly 60 years, and commercial flights to Cuba only began in the summer of 2016, after decades of strictly enforced embargoes. That obviously makes it harder to appreciate the depth of what the country has to offer.
America just recently began doing business with Cuba which is in and of itself a challenge.
I mean, even Cubans doing business in their own country has been a trial by fire.
Many Cubans have never owned their own business despite it legitimately being theirs and the few who do own their own businesses are often privy to the whims of the government and what they say businessmen and women can or can’t buy.
However, on Thursday, in a surprisingly bipartisan move, a majority of Senators backed a bill that would ease those travel restrictions even further. Currently, travelers from the U.S. can technically visit the Caribbean country, but they have to receive approval from Congress.
If that’s not a roadblock, I don’t know what is.
Travelers visits also must fall under one of 12 categories, including family visits, official U.S. government business, journalistic activity, professional research, religious activities, educational activities, and humanitarian projects. If approved, the new bill would allow tourism travel, without congressional approval.
Freedom to travel
The “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act” was cooperatively reintroduced by Senator Jeff Flake (Republican – Arizona) and Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat – Vermont). It boasts a total of 55 co-sponsors, 10 of which are Republicans.
In the last session of Congress, the bill was originally introduced with just 8 co-sponsors.
James Williams, the president of Engage Cuba, called this uptick in support “shocking” in a statement to The Hill. “This level of bipartisanship is unparalleled in today’s polarized political environment,” said Williams. “Removing burdensome regulations on travel to Cuba will allow Americans to exercise their right to travel freely, create U.S. jobs and support Cuba’s growing private sector.”