Trump Is Considering Making Travel To Cuba Difficult Again, So Go There Now
Cuba is roughly 100 miles from Florida. It's so close you could almost swim there.
But, for decades, it was nearly impossible to travel there from the U.S. due to a trade embargo and events that transpired in the 1960s amid the Cold War.
Former President Barack Obama helped change that in December 2014 by announcing the U.S. would move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.
In the process, he eased travel and trade restrictions, and American tourists have been flocking to Cuba ever since to see what they've been missing out on for the past half century.
That could change very soon, however, because of President Donald Trump.
The Trump administration is considering rolling back Obama's easing of restrictions and reinstating limits on travel and commerce, The New York Times reports.
At the moment, Americans can travel to Cuba on their own for educational or cultural trips without special permission from the U.S. government and absent a licensed tour company.
Many Americans have taken advantage of this over the past year or so.
But if Trump reinstates travel restrictions, it could involve requiring travelers to show more proof their trip is legal.
This would probably result in a significant reduction in the number of Americans traveling to Cuba, and U.S. airlines with permission to fly there would struggle to find customers.
Long story short, if you're American and have always dreamed of going to Cuba, now is probably the time.
The Trump administration has cited human rights abuses as justification for moving in this direction.
There is no question the Castro regime has committed such abuses, and its reputation for totalitarianism is not unwarranted.
But given Trump was recently very friendly with Saudi Arabia, which has committed a number of well-documented human rights abuses, it's arguably fairly hypocritical for his administration to single out Cuba in this regard.
A more likely reason for this move is to appease Cuban-American lawmakers like Senator Marco Rubio, who call for a harsher stance toward Cuba.
Not to mention, it falls in line with his apparent determination to roll back essentially anything Obama did, whether good or bad.
There's a strong case to be made that it's completely nonsensical to go back to the way things were before.
The U.S. tried to bring down the Castro regime through harsh economic policies for half a century -- and failed miserably.
In the process, the Castro regime was able to present the U.S. as a bully responsible for the Cuban people's suffering.
If the Trump administration is so concerned with the welfare of the Cuban people, as it presents itself in relation to this issue, perhaps it should consider the adverse impact of restricting trade and travel.
The U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba is actually still in effect, in spite of Obama's easing of restrictions, but many have argued it should be lifted altogether.
As The Economist put it a few months before Obama made the decision to normalize diplomatic relations,
Five decades of use will wear anything thin, and the logic behind the embargo looks ever weaker. It has failed to dislodge the Castro regime of either Fidel or, since 2006, his brother Raúl. Indeed, by enabling the island's rulers to present themselves as the victims of hegemonic bullying, it has shored up support for Cuba abroad and given an excuse for totalitarianism at home. America's allies think the embargo is counter-productive at best, vindictive at worst.
In short, reinstating trade and travel restrictions on Cuba would arguably do nothing but punish a generation of Cubans who had nothing to do with the events that led to the contentious state of relations between their country and the U.S.
It would be a major step in the wrong direction, all for the sake of scoring political points with a small number of lawmakers.
A majority of Americans have a favorable view of Cuba and want to see relations improve.
According to Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Americans approved of the decision to reestablish relations with Cuba and 73 percent of Americans want to see the trade embargo end.
If Trump ends up reinstating trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, he would be going against the will of the American people.
Citations: Trump Considers Rolling Back Obama's Opening With Cuba (New York Times)