By John McAuliff (Contact)
To be delivered to: Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, and President Barack Obama
President Obama's goal of greater engagement between Americans and Cubans is endorsed by two-thirds of our country and is the most effective way to foster democracy, friendship and mutual understanding.
However a determined minority of mostly Republican Cuban Americans opposes all travel and successfully exploited the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to create bureaucratic obstacles to licensing and renewal of people to people programs. [See http://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2012/08/people-to-people-in-bureaucratic-danger.html ] Fortunately this problem has been addressed, at least in part and after unconscionable delay licenses are being renewed and granted.
The President has the power to permanently open the door by authorizing a general license (no application required) for all purposeful non-tourist travel–just as he did for Cuban Americans, universities and religious organizations.
By ending discrimination, the President will free every American to participate in special interest guided tours and professional and cultural exchanges or to travel with their families and independently, using less expensive public transportation, rental cars and privately owned bed and breakfasts.
To encourage nationwide participation, all US travel agents and tour operators must be allowed to promote and book transportation, accommodations and programs instead of only a near monopoly of 250 mostly Cuban American Florida-based Travel Service Providers.
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