To: The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Donald Trump
Travel to and from Cuba
For the benefit of the people of both countries, we urge Congress to end all restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba without further delay.
We also ask Congress to press the State Department to restore full Consular authority in Havana so Cubans can more normally obtain visas for family reunions, educational, professional and cultural exchange and business missions.
Why is this important?
There is no reason except interest group driven domestic politics that Cuba should be the only non-conflict country in the world for which the US government requires its citizens to have a license to travel. While the door has opened considerably, too many Americans fear they do not qualify to explore Cuba independently or cannot afford the high costs of group travel. The emerging private sector in Cuba has been badly damaged by the decline during the Trump Administration of self-directed visitors from the US.
Polls show as many as 81% of Americans, including 57% of Cuban Americans, favor normal freedom of travel. Bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and House are also in support, but it has been a low priority issue that faces opposition from a few powerful politicians.
The removal of virtually all US Consular staff from Havana has crippled normal visa procedures for Cubans, requiring they make expensive and time-consuming trips to third countries that are uncertain of success. The US obligation to provide 20,000 migratory visas annually is far from fulfilled. Educational, professional and cultural exchange and business missions have become impractical for most Cubans who want to visit the US.
Greater travel in both directions is essential for mutual understanding and trust building to achieve real normalization of relations.