US citizens visiting Cuba on the rise, says New York Times

Malecon_385-300x185[1]HAVANA, Cuba – Visits by US citizens to Cuba are on the rise in spite of Washington’s sanctions against Havana, a blog article published on the editorial page of the New York Times (NYT) pointed out on Tuesday.

While traveling to Cuba as a tourist continues to be technically illegal for US citizens, measures eased by the Obama administration now allow for a greater variety of the so-called “people-to-people” cultural exchanges, pointed out NYT contributor Ernesto Londoño, who last week arrived in Havana on a working trip, the Prensa Latina news agency reported on Tuesday.

Thanks to these programs, continued the journalist, over 90,000 US citizens traveled legally to Cuba in 2012 and 2013, more than double the amount of those registered in 2008, when regulations were stricter.

However, the article points out that US sanctions against Cuba – corresponding to an economic and financial embargo imposed for over half a century now — have maintained traveling costs at extraordinarily high levels, partly due to the fact that US companies can’t employ people on the island directly.

Londoño also pointed out that, according to the terms of “people-to-people” exchanges, travelers should follow detailed itineraries, which exclude personal adventures and reduces the possibility of exploring the “flourishing scene” of private sector businesses.

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