John McAuliffe, founder and head of Fund for Reconciliation and Development , has created a signature campaign to “Authorize general licenses for all U.S. citizens who want to travel to Cuba  for non-tourist purposes.
Please sign the petition at SignOn.com .
Here’s the full text from the SignOn website explaining the rationale:
“President Obama 's goal of greater engagement between Americans and Cubans is endorsed by two-thirds of our country and is the most effective way to foster democracy, friendship and mutual understanding.
However a determined minority of mostly Republican Cuban Americans opposes all travel [to Cuba] and has successfully exploited the Office of Foreign Assets Control  (OFAC) to create bureaucratic obstacles to licensing and renewal of ‘people-to-people’ programs.” (See my blog post: Is the door slamming shut from U.S. to Cuba? )
“The President has the power to break the log jam by authorizing a general license [no prior application for authorization to travel is required] for all purposeful non-tourist travel–just as he did for Cuban Americans, universities and religious organizations.
By ending discrimination, the President will free every American to participate in special interest guided tours and professional and cultural exchanges or to travel with their families and independently, using less expensive public transportation, rental cars and privately owned bed and breakfasts.
To encourage nationwide participation, all US travel agents and tour operators must be allowed to promote and book transportation, accommodations and programs instead of only a near monopoly of 250 mostly Cuban American Florida-based Travel Service Providers .”
John’s rationale is eminently sensible and would move things closer to guaranteeing every U.S. citizen (and resident) the ability to fulfill their constitutional right to unrestricted travel, as affirmed by the Supreme Court .
Why then? and how?, you ask, does Uncle Sam currently ban all U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba (the only individuals currently allowed to travel to and spend money in Cuba are a few special categories of individuals such as Cuban Americans and journalists).
Amazingly, the U.S. government still classifies Cuba as a terrorist nation (see my blog post: Guerrilla peace talks in Cuba—a terrorist nation? ) and an official enemy. Thus Uncle Sam invokes the 1917 Trading With the Enemy Act  to prevent any unauthorized financial transactions with Cuba, including for travel, thus doing an end run around your constitutional right to unrestricted travel.
President Obama has lifted many of the insane and unconstitutional restrictions put in place under the Bush administration . However, he cannot lift the travel restrictions entirely as they fall under the Trading With the Enemy Act and the bailiwick of the Republican-controlled Congress.
But as John suggests, he can create an all-purpose general license (as opposed to a “specific license,” which requires that individuals in permissible categories, such as freelance journalists, apply to OFAC for authorization, which can be denied) that would permit every U.S. citizen to travel under the same rationale that was argued for Obama’s creation, last year, of the “people-to-people” provision for group travel—namely, that U.S. travelers are excellent ambassadors for democracy when permitted to interact freely with Cubans in Cuba.
Please sign the petition at SignOn.com  and help further the cause of your constitutional right to travel where and when you want, and to be able to make your own determination about Cuba’s reality.
Now that you’re ready to travel to Cuba, buy Moon Handbook Cuba 
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana .
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker .
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker