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Why Is Trump Assaulting Americans’ Freedom to Travel to Cuba?

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On August 31, 2016, Jet Blue Flight 387 became the first commercial US airliner to land in Cuba in more than 55 years. With great pomp and circumstance, including a water-cannon salute, the flight lifted off from Fort Lauderdale and an hour later landed in Santa Clara. It immediately became a symbol of a new opening in US-Cuban relations, and an economic and cultural bridge between two estranged societies seeking common ground.

Since then, more than 2.2 million people have visited the island aboard more than 13,500 flights from the United States, according to Department of Transportation statistics. Many have come as part of the popular “P2P” educational tours like the ones run by The Nation—people-to-people group trips authorized by President Obama as part of his historic policy of positive engagement with Cuba. Additionally, more than half a million US citizens have come to Cuba via cruise ships, which as the Associated Press reports, have “become the most popular form of U.S. leisure travel to the island.” Indeed, of approximately 630,000 US travelers who visited Cuba in 2018 (not counting Cuban-Americans who went on family visits), the majority traveled via cruise ship. And, until yesterday, those numbers were surging. In the first four months of this year, cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean transported over 143,000 people to the island, an increase of more than 300 percent over the same period last year.

As of June 5, however, the basic freedom of millions of US citizens to easily visit a destination of their choosing no longer exists. Less than a day after Trump’s Treasury and Commerce departments declared new prohibitions on people-to-people tours and passenger-ship voyages to Cuba, Carnival Cruise Line announced that “due to changes in U.S. policy, the company will no longer be permitted to sail to Cuba effective immediately.” Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines also said their ships that were due to dock in Cuba this week would be re-routed. According to the Cruise Lines International Association,an estimated 800,000 passengers who had already booked tripsto see Cuba will now be deprived of the opportunity to do so.  

Within 24 hours, more than 50 percent of the US travel market to Cuba has simply evaporated. And the fallout is likely to increase as the Trump-provoked turmoil ripples through the travel industry, affecting educational tour providers, commercial airlines, and other tourism-related companies, not to mention the entire Cuban economy, made up of a growing number of private-sector entrepreneurs who have recently built businesses dependent on escalating US tourism. “This is a tragic blow for US citizens’ freedom to travel,” says Christopher Baker, who leads National Geographic tours as well as motorcycle and photography trips to Cuba, “and an even greater blow to the people of Cuba, a huge percentage of whom rely on income from US visitors under the people-to-people license.”





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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !