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Arthur Frommer: Preventing Travel to Cuba Is Harming Ordinary Cubans the Most | Frommer's Andromachos Dimitrokallis/ Pixabay

Arthur Frommer: Preventing Travel to Cuba Is Harming Ordinary Cubans the Most

When the Trump Administration recently announced its reversal of the Obama effort to permit American travel to Cuba, it justified this new limitation by the effect it would have on the government of Cuba (and not on the Cuban people themselves).  
Examples were given of the Cuban military’s ownership of major hotels, and of other areas in which a downturn in American travel would harm the governing elite of Cuba.  
To bring about those results, an absolute ban was issued against the operation of cruises to Cuba, which hitherto had been the heaviest means of American travel there.  
It also prohibited the operation of “people-to-people” land tours of Cuba, which also had been a popular means of American travel to that island nation.
In a devastating recent article on a well-read travel website, the errors of such a policy were dramatically exposed.  
Instead of harming the government, the new policy has had its greatest effect upon hundreds of Cuban citizens who had started stores, restaurants, and other services in anticipation of American business, or who had become walking vendors of various services for American tourists.  
Suddenly, according to the article in question, which quoted interviews with average Cubans, the ban on what would ordinarily be a deluge of American tourists, one small store after another, one small restaurant among others, one group of walking vendors among others, have had to shut down, leaving desperate Cubans.  
In these interviews, numerous Cuban entrepreneurs have voiced anxious hopes that the ability to visit Cuba “in support of the Cuban people” might still create some underpinning of American tourism, since that loophole was left untouched by the new policies.  
But even if that happens (and it has not produced a large wave of American tourism to date), the ban upon cruises to Cuba has totally eliminated what would have been an almost daily deluge of thousands of passengers upon the several major port cities of Cuba.  
The Cubans who took major steps to cater to such hoped-for tourists, have been left saddened and desperate.  
So much for the supposed “wisdom” of the new policy.  
It has achieved nothing except unhappiness among the Cuban people, and dislike for America. 
And it has greatly diminished our right as American citizens to travel, in peacetime, to where we alone choose. 
I repeat an earlier question of this column: On what basis does the president have the right, in peacetime, to decide where we Americans can and cannot travel?  
Is not the right to travel exactly like the right to read a book or attend a lecture? 
Are we not freeborn Americans capable of choosing our travel destinations?  
Or are we a brainless people for whom our president alone makes such decisions?