WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
17 May 2007 | News

Cuban-Americans urge Members of Congress to remove U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba

Fifty people from the Cuban-American community will visit members of Congress in Washington this week to support an end to current restrictions on travel to Cuba. The visit by the delegation from Miami-area organizations will also highlight the support among the majority of Cuban-Americans for a policy of engagement with the island, as revealed by a recent poll.    

The members of the delegation represent five Cuban-American organizations: the Alianza Martiana, the Christian Women Alliance in Defense of Family Rights, the ATC, the Antonio Maceo Brigade and the José Martí Association. They will be actively supporting legislation to loosen the arbitrary and inhumane restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The pending bills are HR 654, the Export Freedom to Cuba Act, which has been introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, and Rep. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, which has 109 cosponsors, and its Senate companion bill, S 721, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, and Sen. Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, which has 20 cosponsors. The visit follows the release of results from a poll among Miami-based Cuban-Americans showing that the majority of people in that community support engagement, contrary to popular belief.

Elsa Falkenburger, Program Officer for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America comments, “This visit will show members of Congress that changing U.S. policy toward Cuba is not only the right thing to do, it is now politically safe to do so. The Cuban-American community has never been monolithic, and the changes occurring within the community are finally bringing this to light.” 

The poll was conducted in March among 1,000 randomly selected, Cuban-American respondents in Miami-Dade County by the Institute for Public Opinion Research and the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, in association with the Brookings Institution.  It showed that 65 percent of respondents support dialogue with the Cuban government and that some 53 percent support unrestricted travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. For the full results of the poll, see: http://www.fiu.edu/~ipor/cuba8/pollresults.html

 “These restrictions on travel allow only one family related trip to Cuba every 3 years no matter what the emergency could be and then the restrictions dare to define who is and who is not our family,” noted Andrés Gomez of the Alianza Martiana. Hundreds of thousands of other Americans are also denied their right to travel due to restrictions imposed by the U.S. government. WOLA, the research and advocacy group, has long supported an end to U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba because the ban inhibits the people-to-people contacts necessary to rebuild confidence and dialogue between our neighboring countries.

Photo by eGuide Travel via Flickr Creative Commons.