Breaking news today at Cuba Central, Cuban Colada, The Latin American Working Group, and Along the Malecon, that the Obama administration has announced a new opening in "purposeful" travel to Cuba.
Phil Peters has placed the full White House announcement on his blog The Cuban Triangle.
American tourists should not pack their bags just yet, as the opening seems to revert to the Pre-Bush policy of expanding broad engagement and "people-to-people" contacts.
This means that US government issued licenses will still be required for most types of travel. However, legal travel and engagement will expand greatly in the areas of religious, educational, and cultural contact.
Some of the key elements of the changes are:
- A resumption of university-led study abroad trips to Cuba (beyond the current requirement that students remain an entire semester). In other words, it seems that the 3-6 week study programs that multiplied during the late 1990s will be allowed once again. This presumably goes also for other types of cultural travel through licenced programs and agencies who cater to "life-long learners."
- The allowance of all Americans to send financial support to the Cuban people. This change is particularly important given the Cuban government's recent encouragement of the expansion of micro-enterprise. Essentially, Americans are being allowed to "invest" in these new micro-enterprises (but only at the rate of $500 per quarter).
- The allowance of all US international airports to apply for licenses to set up charter flights to the island.
So, who's going to join me and my students for April's party!?
That is the Sixth Communist Party Congress coming in April, 2001. It just so happens that it falls during my spring break and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
How appropriate! I'll bet that the Cuban people will welcome this new American invasion 50 years later!