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Marco Rubio got quid-pro-quo deal on Cuba travel with President Obama

AP reports that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio forced President Obama to the negotiating table over eased travel restrictions with Cuba:

"This is nothing more than tourism. This is tourism for Americans that, at best, are curious about Cuba and, at worst, sympathize with the Cuban regime," Rubio said.

It is not clear how many Americans have taken advantage of the people-to-people exchanges, but the number is certainly in the thousands.

For months, Rubio held up Senate confirmation of a key diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobsen, until the White House took action on people-to-people. Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, acknowledged a quid pro quo was reached in March, leading to Jacobsen's confirmation and toughened Treasury guidelines that he called "an overdue and welcome step."

Tour operators say Rubio's claims are unfair and will hurt ordinary Cubans, including new entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of a limited free market opening under President Raul Castro to set up private restaurants and other small businesses.

More here

Comments

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TF

This story is not clear. Which direction are the parties pushing negotiations, and why?

John McAuliff

Is being curious about Cuba so terrible? Sen. Rubio's statement makes clear his goal is entirely ideological.

Staff at the State Department and NSC deny that the throttling of people to people travel was a payoff to Sen. Rubio. The actions of OFAC suggest otherwise, but it could be that the Bush appointed director, Adam Szubin, is responsible.

The test is whether the White House or State Department step in to save the President's initiative while there is still time.

Insight Cuba has gained over 3000 signers for a change.org petition. https://www.change.org/petitions/save-legal-travel-to-cuba?utm_source=IC+Lead+List+June&utm_campaign=6af9b75b0f-Save_Legal_Travel_to_Cuba8_24_2012&utm_medium=email

A more fundamental reform of non-tourist travel is advocated here https://www.change.org/petitions/save-legal-travel-to-cuba?utm_source=IC+Lead+List+June&utm_campaign=6af9b75b0f-Save_Legal_Travel_to_Cuba8_24_2012&utm_medium=email

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Marcel Hatch

It is terrible that President Obama is stalling on the renewal of people-to-people licenses for some US travel agencies. Media reports on this situation have caused enormous confusion. Most people think that legal Cuba travel for Americans has ended. This is not the case. Many licenses remain available.

It's still ok for Americans to go to Cuba with a license. Cuba travel for Americans hasn't been cancelled or banned. Despite delays by Washington in re-issuing licenses to some US travel agencies, you can still visit Cuba legally now with many other Cuba travel agencies and license options. Find out at LegalCubaTravel.com

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