Cuba Educational Policy Reversal Condemned

President Trump has announced a new executive action restoring restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, “I am canceling the previous administration’s completely one-sided deal,” he announced to an appreciative crowd of Cuban dissidents in Miami.

One of the major changes in the policy directive is that U.S. travelers making educational people-to-people trips can no longer go to Cuba individually but must travel in groups accompanied by a company representative.

However, despite the rhetoric, the order appears to be less far-reaching than the President claimed, for example, the embassies that opened in Havana and Washington will be maintained, Cuban Americans will be allowed to send money to their families and visit them, and U.S. companies will be allowed to continue commercial transportation, including flights between the two countries.

Jill Welch, NAFSA (Assn. for International Education) deputy executive director for Public Policy, criticized the move, “Regressing to past travel and trade restrictions with Cuba will only pull America back into a 50-year-old failed policy of isolation with the island nation and restrict our ability to learn from one another. For more than a decade, a diverse coalition that includes international educators has advocated for opening relations with Cuba. Harmful changes like these are a prime example of why Congress must act to codify the law and allow open trade and travel with Cuba and the Cuban people. Freeing Americans to travel and conduct education and business interactions with any nation as freely as we are permitted to do so with every other country in the world should not be a privilege for a few—it is a basic human right because after all, travel is inherently educational.”

“Today is a major setback for international relations, NAFSA, our allies and the Cuban and American people. We call on Congress to permanently remove restrictions on travel and trade to Cuba by enacting the bipartisan measures introduced in the House and the Senate, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 and the Cuba Trade Act of 2017, restoring the freedom to travel, trade and learn,” Welch concluded.

 

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