An trip to Cuba from the US used to mean travel through a third country and risking government fines. Americans wishing to travel to Cuba now have a new option. Just a couple of weeks ago, JetBlue began offering direct flights between the two nations. More commercial airlines will add flights in coming months as well. Travel by cruise ship between Miami and Havana has been possible since May. Visiting Cuba is not completely unrestricted, as the US allows only 12 categories of travel. These include artistic, sporting, research, and educational pursuits as well as family visits and “people-to-people” trips that result in “meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.” But, many people can’t remember a time when something like this was possible at all, since travel restrictions and economic sanctions had been in place since the early 1960s.
Other things are changing as well. It was in December of 2014 that President Obama announced a new course for our nation in relations with Cuba. To follow were the removal of Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism List in May 2015, the re-opening of the US Embassy in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in DC in July 2015, and a visit to Cuba by President Obama in March 2016. The United States has even become Cuba’s fifth largest trading partner and a majority of Americans, Cuban Americans, Cubans, and other Latin Americans have all shown support for normalizing ties between these two former enemy nations.
To find out more about the historical background and changes taking place in US/Cuba relations you can visit the Council on Foreign Relations or check out these books and videos from our collection to learn more about our island neighbor.