Congressional Bill Calls for Unrestricted Travel to Cuba

Last month, Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced a bill to Congress that calls for an end to the restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba. Unlike previous bills addressing the needs of Cuban-American family members to have unrestricted travel to Cuba, HR 654 covers all categories of travel to the island. The bill also allows all U.S. travel agents to compete freely and equally in booking trips to Cuba. With the recent elections giving Democrats control of Congress, and the fact that an ailing Fidel Castro appears to be passing power onto his brother, Raul, many observers say the bill has great prospects for passing with strong bipartisan support. It already has gained bipartisan co-sponsorship from more than 60 representatives. Passing the bill would signal the beginning of the end of the full embargo, although observers predict strong opposition as well as the possibility of a presidential veto. There's a tremendous amount of pent-up demand from the U.S. to visit Cuba. A December Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of U.S. voters desire normalized U.S.-Cuba relations. Cuba has been a popular package destination for budget-minded tourists from Canada and Europe; it remains to be seen if the hotels, services and infrastructure can meet the demands and expectations of U.S. travelers.


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