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Trump Administration to Close Down Cuba!

Trump Administration to Close Down Cuba!

Photo of the Fathom Adonia in Amber Cove

The Fathom Adonia

Last July I sat aboard the Fathom Cruise ship and had a fierce debate with passengers about the future of Cuba as a tourist destination and the  long the Fathom Cruise line would last.   I used my head to make my argument, drawing from my undergraduate background in Political Science.  Some of my fellow Cruisers used their hearts to make their case and drew from the feelings of “voluntourism” and social ideas to form the belief that nothing would change and politics did not matter.  Sadly it looks like both are coming to an end quickly as the Trump administration is poised to close down Cuba!

Morro Castle in Havaan Cuba

Morro Castle in Havana 

Here we are, less than a year from that July Cruise, and the Trump administration is on verge of announcing the end of travel to Cuba.  I warned my fellow passengers that the upcoming election in November would determine the fate of both Fathom and U.S. travel to Cuba.  Others argued that it did not matter. Their contention was  that now Cuba has opened, there was no way it would ever close.  My feeling was that those people did not understand history or politics.  

History of US- Cuban Relations

Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations on 20 July 2015 under an Executive Order from President Obama.  This allowed U.S. citizens the opportunity to travel to Cuba for the time being. The U.S. technically prohibits tourism to Cuba, however the U.S. Treasury Department currently allows travelers under 12 different categories.  These 12 categories are “self-licensed”  travel, meaning that you declare your travel intentions and promise not to participate in tourism.  You can go for educational tours, music and cultural exchanges or to participate in a sporting event.  You are not supposed to go to the beach.  

12 approved categories for “Self – License”

12 categories for “Self – License”

The Expected Announcement to Close down Cuba
Havana Cuba Airport. Southwest Airlines flight arriving at night.

Arriving in Havana Cuba at night!

 

CNN reported that, “U.S. officials said the administration was still looking at placing tighter controls on Americans visiting the island.  The Trump Administration is expected to end the practice of “self-licensing”, which created the loophole that allows Americans to travel to Cuba legally.  Rolling back those “self licensing” exceptions will negatively impact the airlines who have already seen a downturn in business and the cruise ships that will start sailing in June 2017 from the United States.  This will force airlines and cruise lines both to discontinue service and thus close down Cuba once again..

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Others expect that by “Executive Order” President Trump will disallow any dealings with the Cuban Military by any and all US entities. Since the Cuban Military operates the Airports and the Ports of Cuba severing these ties too will by de facto close down Cuba.  Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is one of the main protagonists seeking to end travel to Cuba.  Marco’s parents were Cubans who emigrated to the United States in 1956.  The move to close down Cuba is also supported by New York Democrat Senator Bob Menendez whose parents  also emigrated from Cuba in 1953.  I am sure you all are seeing the theme!

Our visit to Cuba

Riding to lunch in a Classic American Car.

Bill & Nikki in a Classic American Car.

In December of 2016 I spent 9 days in Cuba utilizing the “self-licensing” program and choosing the category “Support of the Cuban People”.   We brought gifts for the people especially the children and discussed freedom and democracy as well as life in the United States with the adults.  It was an eye opening experience.  Something that I am glad to have had the opportunity to do.  I honestly never thought I would get a chance to go to Cuba.  From the time I was born until 2016 Cuba was off limits.  It was always on my Bucket List.  I just never thought I would have a chance to go in my lifetime.  

When President Obama lifted the restriction and we were eligible to go.  Nikki and I jumped at the chance.  My Sister and her son went a few days after we returned.  My trip was definitely educational, memorable and eye opening.  I learned a great deal about the country and the history of Cuba.  We saw first hand how things operate.  I have heard the same from many others who have traveled there.  I am part of some great Facebook Groups devoted to Cuba and other Facebook Travel Groups whose members have been to Cuba.  The wealth of collective information is astonishing.  

Cuban People

Cuban Family

A Sad Day!

Last July I was involved in a fierce debate with fellow travelers about the future of Cuba as a tourist destination.   I used my head while others used their hearts.  This is one of those times when I hate being right.  Fathom Cruise line will cease to operate after June 2017.  If the Trump Administration moves forward and ends travel to Cuba it will be the U.S. people as well as the Cubans who suffer.  I am grateful that I had the ability and the option to go to Cuba.  Sadly it looks like it is coming to an end quickly, as the Trump administration is poised to close down Cuba!

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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