Dear Cuba Supporters,
Good news for Cuba advocates!
After months of rumors1 and despite disappointing missed opportunities by the Congress to change the law, the Obama administration announced that it is lifting some government-imposed restrictions on travel to Cuba for several categories of U.S. citizens. Once the regulations are public and finalized, college students, people engaged in journalism and those sponsored by religious organizations will be able to travel to Cuba with proper licenses.
This also means that non-profit organizations including Global Exchange will once again be able to apply to the Treasury Department for a license to arrange "people to people" travel to Cuba, which we did through our Reality Tours program in 2000-2004.
The U.S. remains the only nation in the world that denies its citizens the right to travel freely to Cuba. So, while Global Exchange is happy to hear about the lifting of some of the travel restrictions, we know that there is more work to do. As Walter Turner, president of Global Exchange's board of directors aptly stated,
"While we appreciate this opening, it still doesn't fully recognize the right of ordinary U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba freely, as they can do to any other nation, to learn about the world. If we're going to promote human rights abroad, we need to respect the rights of our own citizens here at home."
Despite various government restrictions, more than 15,000 people have traveled to Cuba as part of our Reality Tours program in the past 22 years2. Throughout those years, we have worked with many of you to promote people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Cuba and this recent lift on some government restrictions is a large step forward.
We thank you for your hard work and dedication to get to this point. Stay tuned for updates on this new development and as we figure out strategies for the next steps, and we look forward to welcoming you on a Reality Tour.
Thank you, as always, for your work on behalf of peace and justice,
1 "U.S. Said to Plan Easing Rules for Travel to Cuba," NYTimes, August 10, 2010.
2 "20 Years of Cuba Reality Tours," Global Exchange Cuba campaign.
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