Power of Story Send a Tweet        
OpEdNews Op Eds

Why Not Travel to Cuba?

By       Message Medea Benjamin       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 3/18/15

Author 3852
Become a Fan
  (25 fans)
- Advertisement -

Reprinted from Other Words

Scuba diving off Varadero Beach shouldn't land you in hot water with Uncle Sam.


(Image by Manu_H/Flickr)   Permission   Details   DMCA

- Advertisement -

If you're an American citizen, you've got one of the most valuable passports in the world. You can travel nearly anywhere, including countries Uncle Sam doesn't always get along with.

If the local authorities let you get through customs, you can take an excursion to Iran to see Persepolis, the ancient capital city of the Persian Empire. The same goes for a trip to North Korea to see the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed corpse of Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

But if you want to scuba dive in the coral reefs alongside Cuba's Varadero Beach, you could face civil penalties, rack up thousands of dollars in fines, and even endure a criminal prosecution once you get home from your vacation.

- Advertisement -

In fact, Cuba is the only country in the world where the U.S. government restricts travel.

Travel to Cuba did get easier recently, as part of the thawing of relations announced by President Barack Obama last December.

Under the new regulations, you have to sign an affidavit affirming that your trip fits within the 12 categories deemed to further U.S. humanitarian and policy goals.

These include visits to close relatives, academic and educational programs, professional research, journalistic or religious activities, and participation in public performances or sports competitions.

That sure beats the days when travelers had to go through the cumbersome process of applying for a license from the Treasury Department. But you still can't go as a tourist, and U.S. authorities can demand proof of the stated purpose of your visit up to five years later.

- Advertisement -

Cubans and Americans alike would benefit from allowing more U.S. visitors to the island.

The Caribbean nation could use a boost in its tourism business, especially now that Cuba's key trading partner, Venezuela, is experiencing an economic and political crisis.

And despite 55 years of U.S. attempts to sabotage the island's socialist experiment, Cubans feel a great affinity towards Americans. They love American jazz, movies, baseball, and Apple computers.

U.S. visitors, meanwhile, adore Cuba's salsa, cigars, rum, beaches, vintage cars, and -- most of all -- its outgoing, fun-loving people, highlighted by TV personality Conan O'Brien's foibles when he taped a special from Cuba earlier this year.

Without a full lifting of the travel restrictions, Americans still can't join the throngs of Canadians, Europeans, and other vacationers already enjoying Cuban beaches. The prospect of removing the restrictions anytime soon is dim, since Congress' policies towards Cuba remain mired in the Cold War era.

But change could come from a surprising bipartisan coalition.

The Cuba opening has an unlikely champion in the Senate in Jeff Flake -- a conservative, Mormon Republican from Arizona who introduced the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. Liberal Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern -- along with another strange bedfellow, Republican Mark Sanford from South Carolina -- has introduced an identical bill in the House.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Ten Reasons to Move Cheney's Book to the Crime Section

Tom Cotton is the Worst Bully in the Senate ---- Here Are 10 Reasons Why

Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian General and the Gladiola

Dear Jon Stewart, Sane People Protest Crazy Wars

Julian Assange: Wikileaks Has the Goods on the Deaths of Innocent Iraqis Killed by the US