US Citizens Freed to Travel to Cuba as Individuals

Bicycle taxi at the entrance to a hotel in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez
Bicycle taxi at the entrance to a hotel in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The US Treasury Dept. will allow US citizens to travel to Cuba as individuals, avoiding the need for group travel, reports Reuters news agency this morning.

Starting this fall several US airlines will be offering regular flights to Havana and several other Cuban cities. Tickets will be available online like other normal flights.

To comply with the embargo that only Congress can repeal, the travel must still fit under the formality of “people-to-people educational travel”, but the ability to book flights as individuals without having to go through a travel company is expected to greatly increase the number of visitors to the island.

US President Obama is heading to Cuba for a two day visit on March 21-22.  Apart from meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, other officials and dissidents, Obama will attend the highly publicized exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team.

27 thoughts on “US Citizens Freed to Travel to Cuba as Individuals

  • I read your comment twice. I think we agree. The Cuban people will not benefit nearly as much as the Castros but making beds and emptying garbage does seem to be a small step better than trailing oxen.

  • Thanks for the correction Griffin.

  • Moses: you might want to rethink your comments above. When two capitalists do a deal, it’s ALWAYS because each of them thinks he will benefit, and they are often both right. This is true under the most democratic, the most libertarian regime we can imagine. I know you know this, it’s elementary Adam Smith.

    The real question is: do the non-capitalists — their workers in particular — benefit? Socialists say no, they don’t. (Well, the thinking socialists, a sub-set, say that.)

    But in reality, they do. There may also be negative externalities, as well, of course.

    When Marriott or other capitalist firms build a hideous (by my old-hippie standards) giant hotel in a previously unspoiled beach area, anywhere in the world, some of us may weep. But that hotel will employ thousands of local people, who would previously have been selling shoelaces at traffic lights, walking behind a water-buffalo turning out a meagre crop of which their landlord would take half … come on, you know this! The ugly capitalist hotel full of fat Western tourists will bring them money, which they will use to send their kids to a decent school, or buy land, or a television set or a motorcycle. Thus the world progresses out of barbarism.

    I usually have to quote Karl Marx to Leftists, on the progressive side of capitalist imperialism in destroying Third World backwardness and barbarism. It’s surprising to have to fire in the other direction, but I think you were engaging in polemical excess. I admit that the eagerness of the regime to drag in the hated American imperialists, and the ‘isn’t-it-all-so-wonderful’ reaction of its ludicrous foreign ‘anti-imperialist’ sycophants can make one dizzy, but we musn’t forget basic principles of economics!

  • Surprise, surprise.

  • Several of the senior members of Code Pink own Global Exchange, which runs a travel company offering package tours to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and other delightful destinations. They make good money selling these Potemkin tours to gullible American leftists.

  • You are mistaken. Marriot is not being taken over by a Chinese corporation.

    Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is an American diversified hospitality company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and related lodging facilities. Founded by J. Willard Marriott, the company is now led by his son, Executive Chairman Bill Marriott and President and Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson. Marriott International has more than 4,087 properties in over 80 countries and territories around the world, over 697,000 rooms (as of July 2014), and additional 195,000 rooms in the development pipeline.

  • You make absolutely no comment related to the post and add to that your childish attempts to condescend.

  • The Cuban people are vigilant in their attention to mosquitos, far more so than YOU HAVE ANY IDEA. The programs and health solutions implemented in every province are engaged locally but certainly not helped by the US embargo. Since they are familiar with tropical viruses carried by insects(dengue, malaria) they are much more willing to prevent infestations by being proactive at all times. That said, even though spraying is common, Cuba is also not willing to poison its people by using pesticides and herbicides on its fruits and vegetables. International tourism is most definitely sustainable in Cuba, American demands do not hold water, Cuba has a lower mortality rate than the US and is safer by far. Poor, yes, toxic, no. Sharing resources in agriculture, science and medicine would be magnificent, if only the price were not prohibitive. Cuba has no desire to become another ruined acquisition, only to re-build. Health is our heritage.

  • It should actually be “….this is no accident. This is the direct and inevitable consequence of communist central planning.” Can you name one place it has actually ever worked?

  • Griffin is correct. The Cuban government indirectly, and sometimes directly, prevents the maintenance and repair if private resistances. Draconian regulations and lack of materials all conspire to keep many residential areas of Cuba a disaster home more reminiscent of a war zone than anything else. I’ve seen it! But as you have never been to Cuba and don’t actually know any Cubans I would not expect you to understand.

  • I get the Sun-Sentinel newspaper here in south Florida. Very few days pass without an article about this cruise liner or that business heading for Cuba or the new flights directly into Cuba opening up .
    With the older hardliner Cubans dying off and leaving just the bitter enders like Moses and Griiffin who are seeing their worst nightmare happening , things are and will continue to change for the better for all the Cuban people.
    Now if only the sore-loser, bitter-enders in the Congress would end the 55 year old embargo, things will really improve in Cuba and maybe we’ll see something we are all at least skeptical about and that is the development of democracy in both the economy and government after normalization.. if and when that happens. .

  • Fidel meant that ., like every other attempt at socialism or state capitalism with social benefits as in the case of the Soviets , China, Vietnam and Korea, Cuba’s attempt at an economic form alternative to free enterprise capitalism was under attack and COULD not succeed as planned.
    The fact is that the Cuban people have been able to endure the poverty inflicted upon all of them for 55 years because of the socialist-style means of distributing essential goods and services .
    Any other country with a free-enterprise (U.S) style means of distributing essentials would have collapsed over 50 years ago .
    Indeed, most , if not all the other 70 U.S. interventions WERE successful .
    Lists of all those other interventions are available online for those with an interest in the historical facts that lead up to the current U.S. /Cuba relations.

  • If only for historic accuracy , you should rephrase your post’s ending paragraph with this:
    ” This is no accident . It is the direct and inevitable consequence” of the poverty imposed upon all the people of Cuba by the 55 year old U.S. embargo Cuba .
    This embargo was put in place and is kept in place to this day to create poverty in Cuba such that the people would rise up and overthrow their own revolution.
    They have succeeded in creating the poverty but failed to convince the Cuban people that THEIR government was the one to blame .

  • Jim,
    You cannot take Griffin seriously.
    He uses hyperbole liberally.
    When he says the “Cuban system prevents …” what he means is that the Castro brothers’ revolution is a failure and cannot supply the society with the necessary repair materials etc.
    There is no statute forbidding repairs .
    He has no idea what socialism , communism or democracy are.
    You’ll be banging your head against a wall of concrete in any attempts to alter his opinions.
    Facts are of no use here..

  • Wrong again .
    The government of the USA has been killing people for decades because they wanted to not have a capitalist economy .
    The Chinese with the far lesser invasions of Tibet and Vietnam and the internal Maoist/Stalinist repressions are choir boys in comparison to the historical record of the GOUSA,
    You can find 52 or so of those US interventions in “Killing Hope” which you can read /review at the eponymous website .
    ( I only used the word eponymous so that you’d have to look that up too.)
    The killings directly tied to US actions run far in excess of those listed in the fantasies of “The Black Book Of Communism” which list the dead under the Stalinist regimes it calls “Communist” .
    Why aren’t you out working for your boy Trump.
    You could have (and likely did) given him some advice on foreign affairs.
    He doesn’t read books either.

  • Thanks. I didn’t know that. The only capitalists more savage than American capitalists are Chinese capitalists. Well, maybe the Russians…..

  • Marriott is being taken over by a Chinese Co. and the new Co. will have over 5000 hotels world wide.

  • The key is “if you have the resources”. The problem is, by definition, socialism prevents any one person from having the ability to get the money to do any of this. The fact is, a vast majority of Cuban homes are not fit for a family to live in. They are simply not safe. Also, there are not enough homes in Cuba for Cubans. Cubans cannot afford to build homes, only the government may (maybe) have the funds, and they won’t do it.

  • Lifting travel restrictions is a great move and the President (Obama) travelling to Cuba to demonstrate his support of the Cuban people is also a great move, but what would be an even bigger demonstration would be if the Cuban people were seen actively supporting measures to fight this Zika Virus and the mosquitos that spread it. A virus like this carried by mosquitos is bound to slow down tourism in the entire region and everything that the Cuban people do to demonstrate that there is little threat of being infected by a Zika mosquito in Cuba will help keep the tourist coming, as well as keep people in Cuba including future generations safe. This is something that will require the big effort that the Cuban people are famous for…and don’t forget to let your friends outside of Cuba help.

  • Code Pink? That explains the tone of your comment. Even Fidel Castro admits Cuban socialism doesn’t work. Bernie Sanders will not win the Democratic nomination. He certainly could not win a general election, even against the disaster Donald Trump. Obama has done everything in his power to close the prison at Guantanamo. I have seen your group protesting here in San Francisco. I just drive by and laugh.

  • Gordon, do you read what you write? If the CEO of the Marriott Group goes to Cuba, alongside Obama or not, it is because he wants to build FOR PROFIT hotels. He is not a Socialist. He is an extreme capitalist. He is also not stupid. He is going to make a deal that benefits him. The Castros are going to make a deal that benefits them. Who gets left out? The Cuban people.

  • You missed the point. Cuba has vague property and title laws. Who has any confldence that they truly own a piece of property when the State can and has seized property without compensation or appeal?

    And you wrote “if you have the resources” …well that’s the problem, isn’t it. Very few people have the resources. Savings are extremely low, given the low wages & high prices. Building materials are scarce and tend to go to politically connected buyers.

    There is no mortgage market in Cuba. Unlike the rest of the world, Cubans cannot borrow against the equity of their home to finance repairs or renovations. As a consequence, the real wealth of the people is locked in unliquid property which decays over time. As the buildings age, crumble and collapse, the wealth owned by the people vanishes.

    The result is there for everyone to see: block after block of ruins.

    This is no accident. It is the direct and inevitable consequence of the system imposed on Cuba by the Castro regime.

  • Not true. If you have the resources, you can remodel, expand, add another floor to your home. It is certainly possible they have rules about modifying your space in multi-floor apartment buildings,for structural reasons. Just as in many countries, Cubans work on their homes project by project, as funds and material availability permit.

  • Not only does Cuba have regulations which prohibit the incursion of ugly architecture, except for the ugly Soviet style apartment blocks built in the ’60s & 70’s, the Cuban system prevents the repair & renovation of any building. As a result, the US tourists will be treated to romantic views of Cubans sleeping under the stars, as the roof of their apartment collapsed years ago. Scenic ruins abound, perfect backdrops for vacation selfies to send home.

    For sure, you will want to help Bernie bring this kind of socialist splendour to America!

  • Felicidades. Los Americanos will bring money to your country. That’s good! We are very excited to visit your beautiful island. I and others want to experience Cuba before it gets all Americanized. Hopefully you will have regulations that prohibit the incursion of ugly architecture; instead when possible beautiful old buildings will be restored and new ones will be tasteful. Guantanamo must be closed and the property returned to the people. We are discouraged and furious that Obama has not kept his promise to close it.
    Now we are working hard to elect Bernie Sanders who represents the best of socialism that you enjoy already. We know you have problems and many are seeking to escape. Maybe that will change and you can stay there and revel in the beauty of this precious place on Earth.
    I like many others have studied Spanish but never really spoken it. Please be patient when we try to use it there. We respect you and support you!
    Love to you from California, Lynn Delaney P.S. I will be there with Code Pink the end of April to May and I am very excited. Our group has more than 60 people. Hasta la vista!

  • This is moving faster than I expected. The CEO of Marriott Hotels will be with Obama when he visits Cuba.

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