Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama opens up Cuban American travel

The Obama Administration has repealed the 2004 Bush rules that imposed new restrictions on Cuban American family visits.

The Treasury Department action is explained here (pdf). It liberalizes Cuban American travel significantly but falls short of the Obama campaign promise to “immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island.”

Today’s regulatory action quickly cleared up a strange situation created by the Cuba family travel provision in the catch-all 2009 appropriations bill that the President signed today. This new law didn’t repeal the Bush regulations; it simply bars the government from enforcing them until October 1. That’s why the owner of a Miami travel agency was cited in today’s Herald saying that he would continue to follow the Bush regulations, because they were still in force. No more.

Now, Cuban Americans no longer need to apply for and obtain a Treasury license to travel, they may visit family once per year, there is no limit on the length of their visits, and they may seek permission for additional visits. And the narrow Bush definition of family has been repealed; it now includes, in addition to immediate family, “‘close relatives,’ defined as any individual related to the traveler by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from the traveler or from a common ancestor with the traveler.”

Plus, there’s good news for those who have relatives in Cuba who are not Cuban nationals – such as the American medical students at the Latin American Medical School. They can visit too, under the same rules.

This is a good, humane move. But President Obama, what about the rest of us?


Anonymous said...

Thank god!! I'm still hoping for unrestricted family (and american genrally), but defintely a step in right direction. We, and our family, have suffered greatly under Bush's inhuman/anti-family and politically-cyncial restrictions.

Anonymous said...

yes, that's right...Bush caused the Cuban people to suffer, not the regime...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if this covers a spouse? Say I a head off to visit my aunt and uncle in Havana - would my wife - who is not Cuba - be permitted to travel with me?

Anonymous said...

The suffering of the cuban family is due to an unjust and despotic government, but there is no need to add to their suffering by imposing regulations that limit family travel.
Communist regimes are the ones that block travel,not democracies. We should not be copying the bad policies of bad governments just to satisfy political needs.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:43, but what happens when the unjust and despotic government uses the resources generated from expanded family travel to sustain itself in power and thereby maintain such an ugly situation in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Make no mistake that preventing families from travel has ABSOLUTELY NO bearing on whether the Cuban government will stay in power or not. I'm so sick of hearing the argument that it's helping to prop it up. Why are people so thick headed that they can't see after 50 years American isolationism is not going to create regime change in Cuba?

Anonymous said...

anon. 2.00

I agree, the notion that restricting family travel props up regime has no grounds in reality. Folks who make such arguments haven't been to Cuba (or spoken with real cubans) in long time. They also haven't done their resarch.

As long as Cuba is open for business with the rest of the world (which it increasingly is), family travel makes no difference to the regime... (While making large differnces to the well being of regular average cubans in both countries).

With millions of tourists flowing from other coutnries, family travel is very small potatos to the regime. Symbolically its important (but not financially).

Further, I echo the sentiment that "The suffering of the cuban family is due to an unjust and despotic government, but there is no need to add to their suffering by imposing regulations that limit family travel."

This statement is right on. While cuba does limit their citizens travel, we, as a free democracy should not. Why do some want to tear down america to behave as other despots do?

Make no mistake, families in cuba(real fathers, mothers, children, grandchildren, grandmothers) are rejoicing at this ruling. It is the moral thing to do.

Lastly, in response to other aforementioned question above, I believe your spouse does qualify.

Anonymous said...

if we have free and open travel to Cuba by Cuban "exiles" then it is time to repeal every special immigration privilege afforded Cuban Americans. You can't have it both ways. Are Cubans in the U.S. "exiles" or just another immigrant group?

Anonymous said...

just another immigrant group, which is fine by me.

Anonymous said...

It's mind boggling for me that many of my Cuban-American compatriots support the cruel anti family measures of the Bush Administration. One reason that I joined the Brigade 2506 and fought at the Bay of Pigs was my anger at the Cuban Government's cruel anti family measures that had separated me from my family. Both Castro and Bush's measures are similarly despicable. If we hope for a future decent government in Cuba we ought not replicate in the USA the indecent measures of the communist regime.

Anonymous said...

It is mind boggling. But remember that about 99 percent of the cuban american that support tha anti-family measures have NO family in cuba (many of them probably don't even speak spanish).

These are the folk that came over in the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Remember, the Cuban-Americans like Mel et al do NOT want any change to take place in the relationship between US and Cuba; if normalization happened they would lose all hopes of being powerbrokers in post Castro cuba. What they want is complete destruction of the current political system so they can come back and influence a cuba that will again be molded for American interests first, under their leadership. so any attempt to normalize things is a threat to their position. they are scared to death of seeing the current American administration make any attempts to deal with the Cuban government on a rational basis, because if US-Cuban relations were normalized under a cuban socialist regime all would be lost for them.

And those who say family trips have no co-relation to 'propping up' the regime are correct. The embargo, restrictions etc are all based on those lies, for 50 years American policies have failed, except to make life more miserable for the majority of Cubans living in Cuba who want a better life, want changes and improvements, but don't want the gusanos to dictate to them under what social or political system they should live.
Now, end the travel restrictions for all Americans, isn't that democracy?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:19,

That was perhaps one of the most hate-filled, ignorant, uninformed comments I've heard all month. You completely gloss over the fact that many in the exile community were forced out by the island's death squads. So I take it by the fact that you use the term "gusanos" that you support random executions? When will you be taking your bullet? If you can dish it out, you'd better be ready to take some in return. You deserve an extra-judicial execution - post-haste.


Doesn't matter now does it? That's what you support in Cuba, you deserve nothing less.

Just what the world needs - more and more state sanctioned murder. More and more state sanctioned theft. More corruption - hell - more of everything!


Anonymous said...

Anony, 9:19 is right on! Anony 10:13 has some points, but just emotional stuff.. You cannot refute anon. 9:19 b/c he is factuallly and rationally correct.

Real Creature said...

So Cuban Americans can go but American Americans can't??? That doesn't seem fair or make sense AT ALL!!!!!!!! Why should Cuban Americans have more rights than American Americans?