MURPHY, COLLEAGUES URGE ADMINISTRATION TO REVERSE DECISION TO RESTRICT U.S. COMMERCIAL AIR TRAVEL TO CUBA

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), joined a letter led by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) urging U.S. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to reverse the Administration’s decision to prohibit U.S. commercial air travel from the United States to Cuban cities other than Havana.

“This decision – which will result in the suspension of commercial air travel to nine Cuban cities – is yet another step backwards for the people of Cuba and the United States. This Administration’s approach to Cuba has severely disadvantaged American and Cuban businesses, farmers, and citizens while failing to achieve any U.S. foreign policy or national security objectives,” wrote the senators.

“This decision – which follows previous measures to limit educational and cultural travel to Cuba – will hurt Cuban-American families and stifle business opportunities and people-to-people contacts. While Administration officials have claimed to be on the side of the Cuban people, officials have also estimated that the Administration’s travel restrictions will reduce the number of American visitors to Cuba by more than half, which is already having devastating consequences for Cuban entrepreneurs.” they continued.

Joining Murphy and Klobuchar in sending the letter were U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and  Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

November 1, 2019

Dear Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Chao:

We write to express our strong opposition to the Administration’s decision to prohibit U.S. commercial flights from the United States to Cuban cities other than Havana.

This decision – which will result in the suspension of commercial air travel to nine Cuban cities – is yet another step backwards for the people of Cuba and the United States. This Administration’s approach to Cuba has severely disadvantaged American and Cuban businesses, farmers, and citizens while failing to achieve any U.S. foreign policy or national security objectives. 

Many travelers, some of whom are Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in areas far from Havana, will now have to pay significantly more for charter flights, which are exempted from the new restrictions. Additionally, eliminating flights to nine destinations including Santiago and Santa Clara will negatively impact U.S. carriers, which are being forced to end service to these cities within 45 days.

This decision – which follows previous measures to limit educational and cultural travel to Cuba – will hurt Cuban-American families and stifle business opportunities and people-to-people contacts. While Administration officials have claimed to be on the side of the Cuban people, officials have also estimated that the Administration’s travel restrictions will reduce the number of American visitors to Cuba by more than half, which is already having devastating consequences for Cuban entrepreneurs.

We have profound disagreements with the Cuban Government, as we do with many governments. But rather than returning to the failed policies of the past, we should be working to create opportunities that benefit the people of both our countries. Accordingly, we would appreciate your answers to the following questions:

  1. Has the Administration imposed similar restrictions on air travel from the United States to any other country? 
  2. What objectives does the Administration hope to achieve with these restrictions, within what period of time?
  3. What impact do you expect these restrictions will have on the number of Americans, including Cuban-Americans, who travel to Cuba, and what do you expect will be the consequences for private Cuban businesses?
  4. In what ways does the Administration believe these restrictions will benefit the people of Cuba or the United States?

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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