Obama to Lift Travel Restrictions to Cuba

Monday, March 9, 2009


The White House has moved to ease travel and trade restrictions as a cautious first step towards better ties with Havana, raising hopes of an eventual lifting of the four-decade-old economic embargo. Several Bush-era controls are expected to be relaxed in the run-up to next month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago to gild the president’s regional debut and signal a new era of “Yankee” cooperation.

The administration has moved to ease draconian travel controls and lift limits on cash remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to the island, a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of families.

“The effect on ordinary Cubans will be fairly significant. It will improve things and be very welcome,” said a western diplomat in Havana. The changes would reverse hardline Bush policies but not fundamentally alter relations between the superpower and the island, he added. “It just takes us back to the 1990s.”

Young Cuban exiles in Florida, much less radical than their parents, have advocated ending the policy of isolation. As a senator, Obama opposed the embargo, but as a presidential candidate he supported it and simultaneously promised engagement with Havana.

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20 Responses to Obama to Lift Travel Restrictions to Cuba

  1. distributorcap says:

    it is about time. this whole embargo is ridiculous and damaging. most of it is a left over from Jesse Helms – who kept it in place to ‘protect’ No Carolina tobacco growers – and with this even more stupid cold war mentality

    and if the cubans in miami protest – too friggin bad.

  2. I can’t wait to be able to travel freely to Cuba.

    The island looks stunningly beautiful, the food is great and the men are smokin’ hot. Plus, Cuba is rich in history. Jim and I always talk about going.

    I agree, if the South Florida Cubanos don’t like the changes, too fucking bad. It’s the 21st century and not 1960.

  3. feminazi says:

    I have a friend who traveled to Havana back in the 1950’s before the revolution and Castro. She said Havana back them was like a combination of Miami meets Las Vegas. It’s insane for the government to tell Americans they can’t travel to Cuba. Where we travel is not up to the government to decide.

  4. Prairiedog says:

    European and Asian companies and hotels have been operating freely in Havana for decades.

    Meanwhile, U.S. companies and hotels have been shut out thanks to the failed policy the U.S. has had toward Cuba.

    The irony is, after 4 1/2 decades, Fidel was still in power until recently when he handed off the presidency to his brother, Raul.

    Our policy toward Cuba is very much like our pathetic ‘war on drugs’ launched by Johnson. So some reason, the U.S. can never admit failure when one of our policies doesn’t work.

  5. Aunt Peg says:

    Mark my words, the day the travel ban is finally repealed, and Social Security payments can be deposited into Cuban banks, Americans will begin retiring to Havana.

    There will be a brief period — maybe three or four years, where apartments and villas remain dirt cheap and then Cuba will become as expensive as Bermuda or the Bahamas.

  6. bradfrmphnx says:

    Lucy…I’m Ho-o-om-m-m-e!

  7. DMason says:

    I can’t wait to go to Cuba. It looks amazing and the streets of Havana are filled with old, American cars from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Plus, the weather is great and they have unspoiled beaches. I agree with distributorcap. If the South FL Cuban-Americans don’t like it, too damned bad.

  8. toujoursdan says:

    I went to Cuba a few years ago and find the place beautiful and fascinating. My only disappointment was the food. (BTW, You REALLY have to know Spanish too. Few know any English.)

    I recently had an American friend do a bike ride there and he had similar impressions. It’s pretty easy for Americans to visit the island if they want to. While the embargo is in place and the penalties are severe, both the U.S. and Mexican authorities look the other way.

  9. Mets Fan says:

    Once the embargo and travel restrictions are removed, I predict within less than a decade, Havana will look like Miami or Honolulu.

    The pent-up corporate demand is enormous.

  10. toujoursdan says:

    … and that would be a shame. More homogenization is the last thing the world needs.

    At least right now, you cannot buy or sell an apt in Cuba and there is a severe housing shortage in Havana. The government ships people to other cities or the countryside. Until that changes, Havana isn’t going to change much.

  11. Teen LaQueeffa says:

    I could go with a hot Cubano over a leisurely week spent in Habana.

    They’re known for having a few extra inches where it counts. 😉

  12. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    The ban on travel to Cuba is ignored by a whole lot of Americans.

    If you doubt this, just look at pictures of U.S. registered pleasure craft docked in Havana on any given weekend. This has been going on for as long as old Fidel anointed himself El Presidento.

  13. Fran says:

    Diplomacy? Cooperation? It’s an outrage!!!!

    The GOP will have a field day with this, as they smoke their fine Cuban cigars & bitch about how the U.S. has gone to hell, and it’s all Obama’s fault.

  14. retahyajyajav says:

    They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results.

    Like U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba.

    For more than 45 years, we’ve banned travel to the island, blocked commerce and maintained an economic embargo and guess what? Fidel Castro spent 45 years as president and only ill health resulted in a change at the top.

    Personally, I welcome this change and I applaud President Obama for lifting the ban on travel.

  15. Bep says:

    The proximity of Cuba to the Florida Keys (about 90 miles) means Americans have sailed to the limited number of ports of entry for years despite the restrictions on travel to the island. Even after the idiot Bush signed into law the unprecedented act allowing Homeland Security to confiscate your boat if caught, leaving you with no legal recourse to get your property back, brave Americans continue to thumb their noses at this illegal regime and cautiously sail to Havana for a few days of relaxation. The Cuban authorities largely look the other way. Fortunately, for America and for Cuba, the idiot Bush is gone and President Obama is president and the outrageous behavior of the previous administration is fading quickly, even as we speak. The small but very vocal voices of a 450,000 Cubans living in South Florida have had a strangle-hold on American foreign policy toward Cuba for decades. This is changing, thanks to a new generation of Cuban-Americans who harbor no ill will toward the Cuban people and a new administration in Washington.

  16. Walk on Socks says:

    Here’s a dumb question but I like to know these things before a visit a place. Can you drink the water in Cuba, or is it like Mexico, where the tap water will keep on the loo for a week?

    I’m not into places where I have to worry about drinking bottled water or diet coke with each meal.

  17. rheamungal says:

    It is embarrassing at the very least. Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting the Fifth Summit of the Americas and our neighbour Cuba has been left out.

    The Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Patrick Manning recently had surgery in Cuba!

    Apparently Cuba is good enough to go for surgery, but not good enough to invite to the Summit.

    Rhea Mungal
    Trinidad and Tobago

  18. Steve says:

    I think it’s time to take the embargo away. There may have been a time and place for it (although that is subject to debate), but that has long since passed. It is time to open up our lines of communication with Cuba.

    Watched a video the other day, it said the embargo was designed to bring Cuba to its knees, but that “It has come nowhere close to bringing them down. The embargo has made Cubans only more dependent on their leaders and their leaders more dependent on our [U.S.] enemies”

    Here’s the link: http://www.newsy.com/videos/rethinking_u_s_cuba_trade/

  19. Pingback: Wednesday WTF #21 « My 2 Cents

  20. Dima says:

    Its nice pretty.

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