I've wanted to travel to Cuba for some time now. Probably partially the fact that I've been told I couldn't, but also because I would love to try Cuban food in Cuba and because it looks like a really beautiful place, full of old architecture.
Today the news has been all about Cuba, since Castro has transferred power to his brother and is now recuperating after surgery. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the travel industry has had plans in place, ready to launch the minute travel is allowed to Cuba. All of the cruise ship operators have scouted ports (as many as eight) and have contingency plans in place. They say those will be the first for U.S. travelers because they have their own infrastructure, they are their own hotels, carry food, etc. But one thing that Cuba has welcomed is tourism, so the rest of the world already enjoys the ability to spend time in Cuba.
A law forbids Americans from spending U.S. dollars in Cuba. However, you can travel to one of five other countries, such as Jamaica, Mexico or Canada and buy all-inclusive packages, thus violating the spirit (and some argue even the letter) of the law.
On CNN they had the story of a boy who in 1994 (7-years-old at the time) got on a boat with 72 others. The boat was intercepted by Cuban government boats which repeatedly rammed the boat and used firehoses designed to fight fires at sea to fill the boat with water. It disintegrated and everyone went into the water. The government boats continued to spray water into the area, attempting to drown survivors. Eventually they captured everyone who hadn't drowned and took them back to land. The boy lost his mom, uncle and brother that day. He and his aunt were allowed to return home. His dad was jailed for a month. Five days after being released from jail his family began work on a raft. Five days after that, 9 people set out on the raft. They were captured by the U.S. Coast Guard and taken to Guantanamo where they were held for 5-1/2 months and then taken to the United States and given permission to be there (VISA?). The boy is now in college and says that he believe his family took that journey, desiring to make a better life for their family and that the risk of death was worth it in their minds when they committed to it.
The news stations believe that the people of Cuba are starting to think that there may be life after Cuba and are starting to desire democracy. (And the news stations questioned why we allow trade with the evil Chinese communist government and not Cuba. Yeah, good question. Sounds like a matter of pride.)