It’s been 50 years since Americans who wanted to visit Cuba could simply hop on a Pan Am flight to Havana, but some members of Congress are trying to change that. A House of Representatives Panel has voted to end the Cuban travel ban that has been in place since 1960.
This doesn’t mean that the ban will for sure end, or end quickly. The legislation still has to be approved by the full House, the Senate, and then the President. Who knows if any of those things will actually happen. This is a politically charged issue that has plenty of passionate opposition.
The ban was first put in place to isolate, weaken, and, ideally, end the Communist regime in Cuba, which has been responsible for untold human rights violations. But opponents of the ban believe that it is the Cuban people who are hurt the most by it, more than the regime itself, and that tourist dollars could bring them much needed money to raise their standard of living.
Since the ban has been in place, there has been no legal way for most U.S. citizens to visit Cuba (although exceptions are made for those with family members there). Airlines are not permitted to fly from the U.S. to Cuba or sell tickets to travel there through other points. Although some Americans circumvent the ban by flying to Mexico or Canada and then buying a ticket from there, doing that is technically illegal — you could be fined up to $50,000.