Bridge Differences with Legal Travel to Cuba
Cuba was my forbidden fruit and in 2003 before President W. Bush pulled the cultural licenses enabling Americans to visit with licensed operators, I had to find a way to legally visit. Insight Cuba was the solution and I traveled with them for an extended weekend in Havana on a people-to-people program.
Travel Bridges Differences
As travelers, we know a large part of the travel experience is interacting with locals and other travelers to broaden our knowledge and understanding. Trips to Cuba allowed Americans to interact with Cubans, exchange ideas and learn more about each others cultures. When we connect with other people we realize how similar we are than different. This is all part of nurturing pockets of peace to bridging differences rather than dividing cultures.
Why is this important? Because when we get to know someone and better understand them there’s less hate. Would wars erupt if we better understood each other?
Having participated in Insight Cuba’s people-to-people program, I found it extremely beneficial in understanding the oppression Cubans live under but also how they have adapted and survived. How else could they keep cars from the ’50s and ’60s running without access to automotive parts? I found some Cubans to be happy and content while feeling the frustration and skepticism from others.
I was disappointed cultural licenses to Cuba were pulled the end of 2003 because it meant fewer Americans could legally visit which meant fewer Americans could learn firsthand what it’s like for Cuban citizens. It also meant fewer Cubans were meeting fewer Americans and learning about our ideology.
And keep in mind, citizens of other countries can legally visit Cuba. The Caribbean country welcomes more than a million visitors annually with Canadians and Western Europeans topping the list.
Good News! Americans Can Once Again Legally Travel to Cuba on People-to-People Trips
Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. travel policy to Cuba relaxed a bit earlier this year. Americans can now legally travel to Cuba with licensed operators on people-to-people programs with the first trips departing in August. This means the cultural gap between America and Cuba can be bridged with a better understanding of each others ideas.
What can you expect? I imagine it will be similar to what I experienced eight years ago. Check out my post, “What It’s Like Visiting Cuba on a People-to-People Program” to read my first-hand observations about the program.
Several companies have requested licensing and have received permission from the U.S. government to run people-to-people trips to Cuba. As previously mentioned, I traveled with Insight Cuba (www.insightcuba.com) and they’ll be running trips in August and accepting reservations now. An organization I traveled to Afghanistan with also offers trips to Cuba. They’re called Global Exchange and they offer a host of Reality Tours to Cuba (www.globalexchange.org). They are also accepting reservations now.