This morning, a bipartisan group of eight senators introduced a bill that would lift the US ban on travel to Cuba. The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center experts are closely monitoring this story. Their reactions: 

Peter Schechter, Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center

Surely Americans are the best ambassadors of what it means to live freely. Even at the height of the cold war Americans were not banned from traveling to the Soviet Union. Current policy dictates that Americans can travel to countries including Sudan, Iran, and Myanmar with greater ease than they can to Cuba. This restriction is both unjustified and absurd. Freedom of movement is not a partisan issue; it is a universally held democratic belief that citizens should be able to come and go across borders so long as it is not a danger to themselves or the United States, and that standard holds true with Cuba. We know from the days of “jazz diplomacy” and other such cultural exchanges with Soviet nations that the most effective approach to spreading democracy is allowing it to organically arrive in the form of American visitors.

Jason Marczak, Deputy Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center

The introduction of a bill to lift the travel ban to Cuba will be met with support from the majority of Americans: our poll shows that sixty-one percent of the American people favor lifting the travel ban completely. It is refreshing to see this popular opinion reflected in legislation drafted by the Members of Congress that these same people elected. For decades US-Cuba policy has been owned by a handful of elected officials, most from Florida. Now, Senators and Congressman with no record on Cuba will be free to take a stand on whether they think Cuba is truly such a threat that it merits limiting Americans’ freedom to travel there, a limitation not put on any other country. It is likely that the popular opinion of the American public will prevail in Congress and we will continue to see seismic shifts in US-Cuba policy.

Related Experts: Jason Marczak and Peter Schechter