Friday, January 16, 2015

Take This Plane to Cuba

And from today onward you don't have to hijack said plane to do so.

While the travel rules aren't completely opened, you can meet one of twelve criteria to make a trip to Cuba.  As Ferdman writes in that article, the rules are flexible to where the American traveler "...will no longer have to obtain a special license from the government, which seems to pave the way for a future in which leisure travel is more common, if not completely legal. As part of the updated regulations, those hoping to travel to Havana will only need a general license, which they can declare as individuals. In practice, this will effectively mean that people can claim they are traveling under one of the dozen approved categories, and then book a flight..."

So for example I could claim I was traveling to Cuba to obtain research materials for a book on Caribbean history I've been writing since 1996, check off a box on the State Department paper claiming so, make a 10-minute visit to Cuban archives to photocopy some pages from Jamaica Today, and then spend about two more days on the coast without worrying I'm facing jail time or lawsuits when I get back to the U.S.

I hope.

In strictly legal sense, the 12 criteria covers a lot of professional and personal reasons to make the trip: the best part is allowing family trips, for members of the exiled community here in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. to make the 90-mile journey across the waters to return "home" and visit those who stayed behind.

One of the expected impacts of this loosening of travel is how it will make it easier for U.S.-based Cubans to ship over money and resources to the more impoverished relatives back on the isle.  The other is that the interactions without repercussions can lead to a softening of the harsh divisions between the exiles and homeland.  While that heated opposition won't go away overnight, it could - and should - diminish to where reasonable solutions towards ending the 50-plus years of hostility between the sides can be reached.

Meanwhile, I'm now conflicted between either saving up money for a trip to Ireland or a trip to Cuba.  Should I flip a coin, seven blog readers?

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