By now you are likely aware that three different 2010 races to Cuba – two keelboat and one beach catamaran – were all killed after being unable to get permission from the US Department of Treasury to run their races. Along with millions of others, we’re immensely frustrated with the Obama administration’s refusal to update its policies to reflect the reality of a politically stoked embargo that accomplishes none of its goals. We are confident that Cuba races will not only help participation in South Florida’s anemic local fleets, but that the yachties and race support will help foster the kind of relationships between Cubans and Americans that can only help the effort to modernize the island in positive ways.
So it’s good news that the House Agricultural Committee recommended HR 4645 to a full vote of Congress – the bill removes all travel restrictions on Americans who want to travel to Cuba. If passed, US sailors can find out what Europeans have known for years; Cuba is a beautiful, convenient, inexpensive, and culturally unique place to spend a few weeks and a few pesos in.
The bill faces substantial opposition, largely from Florida politicians swayed by the powerful Cuban immigrant lobby, but also from New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, the son of Cubans himself, who claims that travel and investment flowing to Cuba won’t change a thing in the communist country, while others believe that foreign revenue will only enrich the party elite. Menendez says that foreign trade hasn’t brought about any change at all in Cuba, though he ignores the fact that the potential US trade with Cuba would dwarf the numbers brought in from other countries by orders of magnitude.
This is one of those times that you can help change national policy – be sure to email, call, or write your own Congressmen immediately requesting that they vote "yes" on restricting travel to Cuba. For more info, watch this interview with "Cuba Run" founder John Webster.