If this goes on, it’s just going to become a border issue and it’s going to continue getting more and more problematic. So I definitely suggest that you ask your local embassy whether they have available direct flights to or from these places, and consider the possibility of taking a tour. They have to be willing to go out of their way, and you have to be willing to pay for a private charter, but it’s a good service if you know where you’re going.
We’ve all heard of this [travel restriction to Cuba]; no one wants to have the government screw things up. But being a U.S. citizen, is that a concern to you?
Yeah, I guess it is.
You did not visit or have contact with foreign governments before becoming U.S. citizens. Now you are, it seems like, in a position where you have some influence. Is that something you’re conscious of? Do you feel like you have more of a say now?
I have less of a say, and I wish I didn’t, but it’s kinda like everything. As you become more visible and on the frontline, you have more of a voice, and you make decisions, because you have a stronger voice in this country, but as far as really participating in the process and creating real change, that’s not something that comes into play until later on.
So it seems like the way to make change is to talk to people, really, from the grassroots up.
There’s a lot of outreach in this country, but it gets very problematic at the local level to push the ball forward.
Has there been any progress on the Cuban embassy restrictions that impact U.S. citizens?
The Administration has been clear. Our embassy in Havana will be fully operational and staffed to provide diplomatic and consular services, including consular services for Cubans in Miami and Cuban-Americans traveling to and residing in Cuba. At the same time, Cuban-Americans can travel to Cuba without special permission to see family and friends and participate in religious or cultural activities, without other restrictions. In addition, there is no longer a need for any Cuban passport holder to obtain a separate travel document designed to circumvent the U.S. travel ban to Cuba. The U.S. government is committed to enhancing our diplomatic and commercial relationship with Cuba and will actively support Cuban private sector efforts to invest in infrastructure and other projects that support a prosperous, democratic, independent and sustainable Cuban economy. In this spirit, American citizens who travel to Cuba can travel under Cuban law without requiring a travel document.
You do have the ability to go to Cuba?
In my particular case, there are not a lot of restrictions — I just pay a nominal fee and get a visa that allows me to come and go. Other people can travel freely, which is good for them. The Department of Treasury, the Department of State and the Office of Foreign Assets Control have issued significant authority in this area. So people can go anywhere in Cuba, including the better parts, without going through a number of hoops.
What has been the most common category of travel that you’ve heard of that Americans have been using since 2015?
I think its been family travel and cultural trips, and it’s been a really good transition to be here. People have been very happy, they’re used to the presence, they are used to the culture, they are used to the things here. I think people are having a good time here. I don’t think people are worried about anything here; they’ve been living their lives for a long time in a very hostile environment in Cuba. And I think that people have been very happy to be able to live their lives here and meet people. So I think it’s been good.
Is this something that’s served to transform your perspective?
It really, really has. I think when you get to know a place, its just really, really amazing. What’s so interesting is that now when you go to places like Cuba and you hear stories that are so personal, so personal and so personal and so real to what’s happening there, and really personal to what’s