U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has introduced legislation to allow Americans to travel to Cuba – the first bill to be introduced in Congress on the subject since the president announced last month he wanted to normalize relations with Cuba. The travel ban has been in effect since 1960, ostensibly as a way to prevent Americans from supporting the Castro communist regime, but Durbin says it’s a unique and peculiar restriction.
“We don’t restrict Americans from traveling to countries with troubling governments and regimes like North Korea, Iran or Uzbekistan. Even during the height of the Cold War, Americans were allowed to travel to the Soviet Union,” he said at a news conference today (Friday) in Chicago, after introducing the measure Thursday in Washington.
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The president recently eased some of the rules, allowing students and religious missionaries to travel to Cuba, but Durbin says why not just let people go there to conduct business or for vacation?
Initial supporters include four Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate. This measure, sponsors say, appears to have wide support in Congress, whereas lifting the trade embargo is more controversial. Keith Mussman, president of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, says lifting the travel ban would be a step toward ending the trade embargo, and just with travel, there would be an opportunity to bring agricultural technology to Cuba.