Cuba Travel Agents Backed by US Gov.
By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, March 22 — Travel agents in Florida that would like to book trips to Cuba got a boost on Friday when the US Justice Department officially opposed a Florida Law that imposed huge obstacles to their businesses.
In a 35-page report the federal government argues that it is Washington and not the state of Florida that should be conducting the country’s foreign policy.
Likewise, the Justice Dept. notes that such a law would go against the intent of a new bill just passed by Congress that allows Cuban-Americans to travel once a year instead of every three years to Cuba.
For several decades the powerful Cuban-American exile lobby based in Miami has successfully pressured the US government to maintain its hostile stance on Cuba, independent of whether such a policy went against the interests of the greater USA.
Under the Florida legislation, travel agents would be harnessed with a US $250,000 bond in order to sell trips to Cuba and pay as much as $2,500 per year in added fees, jeopardizing their businesses.
US District Judge Alan S. Gold had ordered a temporary stay of the law last July so he could request an opinion from the Justice Dept.
The Obama administration has stated it is reviewing its Cuba policy and there is currently a bill making its way through the House of Representatives (HR874) that would free all US citizens to travel to Cuba.
The US has maintained an active economic blockade against Cuba since the beginning of the 1960s, in an effort to asphyxiate the island’s economy and topple its government.
With the recent decision of Costa Rica and soon El Salvador to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba, the US will then be the only country in the Americas without such ties to the island.