[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Travel From U.S. to Cuba down 60% (UPDATED)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Travel From U.S. to Cuba down 60% (UPDATED)

The Bush administration's tightened travel restrictions have made an impact in U.S. travel to Cuba, according to this article by Wilfredo Cancio Isla of El Nuevo Herald.

To the non-Spanish readers out there, I apologize for not translating the entire article. Between my regular paying job, household chores, watching over a rambunctious 3-year-old, and helping out with the baby, I just don't have the time! I will try to summarize the key points of the article, however.

The article quotes an estimate from the Cuban government that forecasts losses from the reduced travel will amount to between $93 and $104 million. It also talks about how companies which charter flights to Cuba have suffered as a result of the tighter restrictions.

The article goes on to quote members of local organizations who are fighting for a temporary lifting of the restrictions in order to provide direct aid to Cubans affected by Hurricane Dennis. One interesting mention is that up to 30,000 people have sought to get around the restrictions by traveling under licenses granted to religious and humanitarian organizations.

My take on this - It's a tough situation. No es facil. I go back and forth on the issue of temporarily lifting restrictions in order to provide direct aid to families in Cuba who so desperately need it. I understand someone's need to reach out to their families in Cuba. I just can't bring myself to criticize those people for genuinely wanting to help the people, not the government.

But - yes there's always a but - we can't be fooled into believing that lifting travel restrictions, and ultimately the embargo itself, will by itself open the door to democracy and change in Cuba. It just doesn't add up. As has been mentioned here and in other blogs many, many times, change has to come from the Cuban people themselves.

The only effective way to promote change is to hit the Havana regime where it hurts - in the wallet. If the forecasted losses estimated by the Cuban government are anywhere near being accurate, then it is a clear sign that the overall U.S. restrictions ARE working.

In the short term, it is tempting to crack the door open and give people a chance to go to Cuba to provide aid. But we need to concentrate on the long term goal which is to bring down castro, and the only way to accomplish that is by keeping the door shut.

UPDATED: Check out Mora's astute thoughts on this here.


Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

You know my opinion. I think some short term suffering could create conditions in which the regime could topple. As much as it sucks for family over there, it's the only thing that will wake them from the stupor they are in.

12:57 AM, July 21, 2005  

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