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Will Obama Lift the U.S. Travel Ban to Cuba?

March 9, 2009 @ 1:23 PM | Permalink

If you were planning to study abroad in Cuba in the fall of 2005, chances are that the U.S. Department of the Treasury thwarted your plans. The Bush administration further restricted travel to Cuba in 2004, resulting in the collapse of many study abroad programs across the country.

However, a drastically altered policy in regards to Cuba may be on the horizon, meaning there’s a good possibility that students could be wandering the picturesque beaches and bustling streets of Cuba as early as the fall semester of 2010.

As it stands now, studying abroad in Cuba is no easy feat. Before 2004, academic programs could be less than 10 weeks long and hosted by third-party providers (like IFSA-Butler or CIEE). Now, only a handful of programs exist, and those that do are run through universities as easy to get into (and afford) as Harvard and Brown. You see the dilemma.

However, with the Obama administration in place and with the transfer of power from Fidel to his brother Raul, the case for change in U.S policy toward Cuba appears to be gaining momentum in Congress. Additionally, the Brookings Institution recently suggested that one of the key areas the United States needs to focus on during this reconstruction period is “people-to-people and educational travel” -- a.k.a study abroad programs.

Of course, these efforts aren’t being embraced by all of Congress; some believe that the existing embargo (in place since the Cold War), as well as the additional restraints imposed in 2004, are necessary to condemn Cuba for its repressive regime and its history of human rights violations.

Regardless, groups such as the Cuba Academic Alliance have decided to take advantage of the situation in Washington by starting their lobbying efforts anew. If they’re successful, then student access to Cuba will once again be on a level playing field -- making it way more likely that you and I, non-Harvardians though we may be, could spend a semester in one of the most distinctive countries of the Western Hemisphere. Not only that, but we would essentially be the first emissaries for the United State’s new policy of communication and cultural exchange. 

Not too shabby for a semester’s work.

– Vanessa Quirk 


More on Cuba:


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Comments

Posted on 3/12/2009 by

tavian hade

tavian hade

"Not only that, but we would essentially be the first emissaries for the United State’s new policy of communication and cultural exchange." The first emissaries from the US are actually already there, they've been there for years now, and will be there for years to come, plus a few have already even graduated. They're enrolled medical school, a few miles outside of Habana, and all of them are non-Harvardians and non-Ivy-leaguers, they're mainly blacks and latinos and a're going to change our health care system

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