Fidel Castro’s resignation last week is expected to have no immediate effect on laws preventing U.S. travelers from visiting the country, says author Christopher P. Baker, who has written five books about Cuba.
Baker told Travel Agent that the end of Castro’s reign would not result in any immediate re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. “Fidel’s resignation offers a new opportunity for the U.S. to revisit the value of current restrictions and to reaffirm our constitutional rights to travel to Cuba as a first step towards respecting Cuba’s sovereignty and putting us in step with the rest of the world,” Baker says. “That’s not going to happen any time soon. However, President Bush’s successor, it is hoped, might respond with greater imagination.” Baker says a recent study has estimated that if it were to happen, three million U.S. citizens would annually visit Cuba five years after the restrictions are lifted. “After more than a decade of traveling to and reporting on Cuba, I’m suddenly feeling quite giddy,” he says. Additionally, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said Tuesday that the U.S. will not soon lift its embargo on Cuba despite Fidel Castro’s resignation. Asked by reporters at the State Department if Washington planned to change its Cuba policy now that Castro has stepped down, Negroponte replied: “I can’t imagine that happening anytime soon.” He declined further comment. Travel Agent’s Senior Editor Mark Rogers first reported on the possibility of travel to Cuba back in April, citing an Associated Press study that showed 62 percent of Americans thought the U.S. should re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and that 40 percent would travel to Cuba if the band was lifted.