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Support Lifting of US Travel Ban to Cuba

Written by LaMarco Cable
February 24, 2009

Since the early 1960's, the U.S. has imposed an economic, financial and commercial embargo on the Castro government in Cuba.  Americans have been barred from trading with, investing in, or traveling to Cuba. Cuba remains the only country in the world to which the United States government bans travel to by its citizens.  The U.S. government has tried to isolate Cuba economically by undermining the Castro regime and depriving it of resources. A half century later, Cuba is a poor and dysfunctional nation of 11 million people that poses no real threat to American or regional security. The United Nations General Assembly has consistently condemned the U.S. embargo and has described it as a violation of international law.  The U.S. embargo has cost the island more than $93 billion in economic losses and most believe that the life of Cubans would be easier and shortages would disappear if relations with the United States were normalized.  

The current priority in Cuba advocacy is ending the full travel ban for all Americans. Given the current Congress and Administration, the signs are encouraging that lifting the ban is possible.  During his campaign for president, Obama pledged to lift travel restrictions so that Cuban-Americans can visit their families in Cuba, and also promised to eliminate caps on remittances Cubans send back to their families.  Already in the 111th Congress, both the House of Representatives and Senate have introduced legislation to end the ban on travel to Cuba.  H.R. 874 was introduced by Rep. Delahunt (D-MA) and Rep. Flake (R-AZ), along with seven original co-sponsors.  The Senate version, S. 428, was introduced by Senators Lugar (R-IN), Enzi (R-WY), and Dodd (D-CT). 

Congress has the power to end the ban on travel to Cuba.  It is important for advocates to write and call their representative requesting their support of the House Bill H.R. 874 and Senate Bill S. 428.  The global community is counting on you to do the right thing concerning Cuba and work to end this unjust and inhumane restriction on travel to Cuba. American tourism would significantly boost the earnings of Cubans who rent rooms, drive taxis, sell art, and operate restaurants in their homes.  Those dollars would find their way to the hundreds of freely priced farmers' markets, to carpenters, repairmen, tutors, food venders and other entrepreneurs.  Contact your member of congress today to ask them to support legislation on "travel for all to Cuba" by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121.

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