In 2014, Obama signed an executive order that loosened travel for Americans to Cuba. In February of this year, we took advantage of that policy. The tickets from Fort Lauderdale to Havana cost, on Jet Blue, $150 apiece, round trip, with an additional $50 apiece for the visa. The flight took a total of 33 minutes. We booked our lodging online, through airbnb, and had a four-bedroom, four-bath apartment that costs us $40 a night apiece. In all, the trip probably cost each of us about $600 for a ticket, lodging, food etc. The island is fantastic, the people are wonderful, and the entire trip was one of the highlights of my life.
Today in Miami’s Little Havana, Trump rolled back Obama’s executive order with one of his own that tightens those travel restrictions so that Americans will no longer be able to travel as freely as we did in February. In fact, you will probably have to go with an educational group, which means you can’t travel on your own around the island and, of course, the price is going to be well beyond what we paid.
street in Habana Vieja
Lunch en route to the interior
A cigar maker at a tobacco plantation
Trump, playing to a tiny core of his supposed base in Little Havana, said, “…we must ensure that U.S. funds are not channeled to a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society.”
Really? What about the Phililpines? Egypt? What about Saudi Arabia, where the “most basic human requirements of a free and just society” are denied to nearly everyone except the royal family, and are denied in particular to women? Trump doesn’t have any problem with countries like this.
This part of his edict is especially heinous. It’s from The Huffington Post:
“The Trump administration is stepping up requirements on those sorts of trips, requiring a full-time schedule of activities that “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that the travel must result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler” and Cubans, according to the draft. Travelers to Cuba will have to keep detailed records of all their financial transactions in the country for five years to make available to the Treasury Department if requested.
“The president is also directing the Treasury secretary to regularly audit Cuba travel to make sure U.S. travelers are following the rules on avoiding GAESA-linked transactions. Anyone who travels to Cuba, however, might be able to stay at an Airbnb or eat at an independent restaurant, although that interpretation is not clearly spelled out in the draft order. But those who go to the island under a U.S. license will need to keep strict notes proving they’re complying with the new executive order – or face fines.”
Our 4 days in Cuba were all about interacting with the Cuban people and culture and we didn’t need a U.S. govennment authorized educational group government to do it. This edict of trump’s is as brainless as everything else he has done since January 20. Sure, impose the American embargo again and watch as the Chinese and Russians move in and do business there.
Trump can’t be gone too soon for me and my hope is that his entire administration is thrown out with him. Every single one of them is corrupt to the core and every Republican who falls into line with him and fails to speak up should be voted out in 2018.
Art that represents the Cuban spirit!