A commercial flight took passengers to Cuba for the first time in decades last Wednesday. These flights are now possible due to President Barack Obama's decision to lift the strict travel restrictions to Cuba.

Voyagers also do not have to obtain permission from the U.S. Government, as was previously required. However, there is a new set of rules that could restrict people from entering the country.

The visit must fall under one of the 12 categories prepared directly by the White House. The reasons for visiting Cuba include family visits, journalistic activities, educational activities, humanitarian projects and support for the Cuban people.

The issue with this set of rules is that it doesn't allow everyone to travel to Cuba.

While the 12 categories would allow Americans to do a lot of good — visiting museums, orphanages and taking on educational endeavors — we in the States have the right to travel to Cuba, even if it's for a leisurely vacation. Allowing travel for all U.S. citizens will increase the interactions with the Cuban community as well as open up the government for new business opportunities, such as tourism.

If Americans choose to bypass the White House system, they could suffer serious consequences. People may take steps as far as obtaining travel without the proper licensing by first traveling to Canada or the Bahamas, which do not require a stamp on passports. Travelers who dare take this route are subject to steep fines if they are caught and may even have trouble re-entering the United States.

Why exert the effort to reprimand travelers? Open access to Cuba would eliminate any illegal ventures, which will ultimately encourage more travel to the island.

The reason the president made this travel possible is to open the Cuban society to more people-to-people interaction. We want to help empower the Cuban population, but only allowing certain "types" of people into their country not only sends a bad message, but also doesn't allow the opportunity for Cubans to fully relate to the American people.


Tiffani Daniel is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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