The convoluted issue of travel in the US-Cuba relationship remains a most consuming question for citizens and media alike, and the complications arise on all sides. US. citizens, of course, enjoy expanded rights to visit Cuba for “people-to-people” exchanges under Obama administration regulations, but the rules are specific and the agendas pre-approved, which means that opportunities are still quite narrow. Meanwhile, Cuban citizens hoping to travel anywhere abroad are subject to government controls, including application for an expensive exit visa that is out of reach for many – not only because of price, but because of various unspoken rules that result in denial of permission or years of wait. And, as in the case of the eighty Cuban scholars hoping to attend the LASA conference this week, a number of Cubans that proceed through the visa process with the US government find that the ultimate decision seems to be arbitrary, contradicting, and nontransparent.
On the face of it, this latest twist in the travel narrative is as confusing as any other, and media, scholars, and Congressional representatives have wrestled with it over the past few days. Why would the administration allow the daughter of the Cuban President to travel to the United States? Does Castro’s visa allowance represent a change in US policy?