Perhaps it is because no American has been busted by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for going to Cuba for a couple of years, perhaps it is because 42 new travel service providers have been validated by the US government to operate between the two countries, perhaps because these last reminders of the Cold War are archaic hanger ons from a past era, it is my prediction that Cuba will be 100% open for travel for all US citizens by the beginning of next year.
The increases [in approved travel service operators] were driven both by President Barack Obama’s change in policy to allow more U.S. travel to Cuba and OFAC’s effort to clear up a backlog of applications for new licenses that had been pending for several months, said one knowledgeable U.S. official.
Obama lifted virtually all restrictions on Cuban Americans’ travel to the island last year, overturning a Bush administration ruling that had limited their trips to once every three years.
“Not only is this good for people who have been waiting for years to open their businesses, but it allows the U.S. government to address more pressing matters that affect the entire nation,” said Vivian Mannerud, president of the Miami-based Airline Brokers Co. -US approvals of Cuba Travel Providers
It is the latter statement that I find to be the most pertinent: who cares if people travel to Cuba any more? The revolution is over, the Cold War is finished, former Communist regimes are now thriving capitalistic operations.
If restrictions on travel to Cuba, who in the USA, besides bitter Cuban refugees perhaps, would care? It is my impression that we have better things to do now than worry about people sitting on the beach of a formerly rogue country. This is old news. Socialism is dead, and even the Socialists seem to know it.
The world has changed. It is my impression that it is the newly solidified global economy that now makes Communism and other such initiatives obsolete, the matter of contending political ideologies is no longer the business of governments, it is the business of business.
Just so all the players at the table are open for buying and selling, the cloak of their political affiliation means nothing: all that matters is what cards they play. And it is my impression that Cuba has a few aces in the hole:
Aces such as thousands of miles of beaches, a developed infrastructure, and laying only 90 miles south of Florida.
Cuba is too big of a player for the US businesses to ignore. It is not my impression that American players will allow the Europeans, Asians, and Canadians to gobble up all of the Cuba concessions for very long. There is too much money to be made on that narrow stretch of beach.
It is reported that over 30,00 US citizens go to Cuba each year without offial permission and in violation of the embargo. It has never been illegal for Americans to travel there, it is just against the rules to violate the embargo: to spend money. A clever traveler can easily leave a very light trail as they go in and out of the country. And the US Treasury Department does not seem to be checking too thoroughly.
On top of this, there are hoards of other American travelers going there on the grounds of their Cuban ancestry, or with special permission for students, journalists, researchers, or a whole selection of other loop holes.
I have always wanted to go to Cuba before the travel restrictions and embargo are lifted, I am unsure how much interest I would have in going there after it is transformed into a big Cancun. Or perhaps I am just drawn there because it is forbidden. Either way it now feels as if I am in a race, a race that there is a good chance that I am going to lose.
I predict that the US travel sanctions on Cuba will be lifted by the end of this year.