Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Congress votes to repeal Cuba travel restrictions
The debate over U.S.-Cuba relations heated up last week with exciting new developments hot on the heels of the recent introduction of a bipartisan bill to lift all travel restrictions for U.S. citizens to Cuba. Not least, last Thursday an appropriations bill that would ease travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives. It must now be approved by the Senate. (Under current law, Cuban-Americans have a special right to travel to Cuba once every three years; all other U.S. citizens and residents are denied the freedom to visit Cuba.)
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republic on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Senate's senior spokesman on foreign policy, issued a report on Cuba policy calling for restoration of travel rights by U.S. citizens, plus diplomatic talks with Cuba aimed at restoring normal relations without holding Cuba to preconditions. "We must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests," wrote Lugar, who acknowledged that U.S. policy has been a dismal failure. The fact that key Republicans are now openly calling for change is big news indeed!
And Lugar’s recommendations were endorsed by a new Brookings Institution Cuba Policy report calling for renewed travel and unilateral action by the U.S. aimed at restoring diplomatic relations. More importantly, the roadmap even gained endorsement of leaders from the right-wing Cuban-American National Foundation.
Could this be the beginning of the end for the five-decade-long U.S. economic embargo of Cuba? Who knows, we may soon even have a real U.S. embassy in Havana!
This is a tremendously promising beginning to 2009 and shows that Congress is willing to act ahead of the Obama administration on bringing sanity to U.S.-Cuban relations. Meanwhile, I anxiously await Obama announcing the even more progressive action he promised during his election campaign.