Photo: The Nation
Washington, Aug 2 (Prensa Latina) Passing a law to allow travel to Cuba would end the capacity that US presidents currently have to ”sacrifice the right to travel on the altar of electoral politics,” an expert on the issue stressed.
US researcher Peter Kornbluh, Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, highlighted in an article published in the digital version of The Nation magazine the recent introduction in Congress of the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act.
‘Few people are aware that Cuba is the only nation in the world to which a congressional statute prohibits US citizens from traveling for a simple vacation,’ wrote the expert on relations between the two countries.
Kornbluh recalled that from the end of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration (1953-1961) until the 1990s, travel restrictions, as well as the blockade imposed on Cuba nearly 60 years, fell under the executive authority of the US president.
That changed in 1996, when Bill Clinton (1993-2001) signed the infamous Helms-Burton Act, which codified the blockade into law, along with travel restrictions. Later, in 2000, Congress established that the Secretary of the Treasury cannot authorize transactions related to visits to Cuba, the expert recalled.
‘That language was used first by President George W. Bush as the legal basis for restricting the constitutionally supported right of US citizens to travel to the island and see its complex realities for themselves. Now it is being used by Donald Trump,’ Kornbluh continued.
He noted that, between these two presidents, President Barack Obama (2009-2017) attempted to circumvent legal restrictions on ‘tourist’ travel with a series of measures that have now been largely reversed by Trump.
He explained that, even under the bans of the current administration, U.S. citizens can still legally travel to Cuba, especially under the ‘people-to-people’ category of ‘purposeful travel,’ but Trump’s obstruction of the right to travel has caused confusion.
That’s why he said the approval of the draft bill, introduced this month in the Senate and House of Representatives, ‘would end Trump’s ability, as well as that of future presidents, to sacrifice the right to travel on the altar of electoral politics.’
However, he acknowledged that the law faces an uphill battle in Congress, where, he said, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he will not vote on it this year.