Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cuba Policy Change Earns NAFSA Praise

President Obama’s decision to permit Cuban-Americans visit and send money to their relatives on the Caribbean island is getting praise from NAFSA, which hopes the move — characterized by the New York Times this morning as loosening restrictions “only a crack” — could ultimately lead to the restoration of educational-exchange programs.

The Bush administration virtually eliminated educational exchanges with Cuba earlier this decade — and, to be clear, the Obama decision does not immediately restore those exchanges. But NAFSA says it is heartened anyway:
NAFSA applauds President Obama for his action yesterday reversing the restrictions that the Bush administration imposed on family travel and remittances to Cuba and making it easier for families to send gift parcels to Cuba. The administration’s moves to open up telecommunications with the island also constitute a major step forward.

We now urge the administration to move quickly to rescind the rest of the restrictions on communications with Cuba that were imposed by the Bush administration — restrictions on educational travel. At a minimum, the Obama administration should restore the situation to where it was before the Bush administration: Americans should be able to study in Cuba and participate in educational travel to the island, and Cuban scholars should be permitted to attend academic conferences in the United States.

NAFSA further urges the administration to set a genuinely new direction in U.S. policy toward Cuba by reconsidering all of the limitations on travel to Cuba.
Cuba was a major destination of U.S. students and academics before the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. According to Skye Stephenson, dean of the first-year experience at Landmark College and a member of the editorial board at Abroad View, says exchanges have ebbed and flowed since then.

Stephenson says that as many as 40,000 Americans were traveling to Cuba each year at the beginning of this decade under “people-to-people” exchange programs. More than 750 colleges had permission to carry out programs in Cuba by that time, and nearly 4,000 students studied in Cuba as late as 2002.

That changed with the Bush administration’s crackdown in 2003. Since 2004, there have been virtually no exchanges between American and Cuban students and academics.

1 comment:

Locations of visitors to this page