For over four decades, travel between the United States and Cuba has been restricted, if not outright banned for most citizens. While a number of workarounds exist to allow Americans to travel to the island, none have been endorsed or sponsored by the state. The United States’ current policy is one that appears to be lifted straight from a Cold War safety briefing, but it could soon disappear.
The Obama administration has announced its intentions to limit restrictions on travel to Cuba, one of several moves aimed at freeing up the country’s current foreign policy towards the island. Cuba remains a popular travel destination for those outside of the United States, although its communist government and previously aggressive stance towards the USA make it a politically tough topic.
The current ban on Cuba travel has its roots in the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis. Due to the island’s close ties with Russia, it was once used as a testing and storage ground for nuclear weapons, short-range missiles, and other projectile threats to the United States. A number of restrictive trade and travel policies extend from the crisis, which is remembered as a close encounter with nuclear war.
New policy changes are likely to reflect those implemented under President Clinton, who eased a series of restrictions against the island. Due to security concerns, many of the policies voted on in the Clinton government were reversed under President Bush. Restrictions on travel for those with families in Cuba have already been loosened under Obama, with visits now possible for some.
Cuba remains a point of heated debate in American foreign policy, with many of those supporting the Obama administration also hesitant to support a bill allowing Cuban travel. Political analysts believe that the policies are unlikely to be implemented until after the upcoming midterm election.