Could Donald Trump presidency change how people travel to Cuba?
TRANSPORTATION By Kristina Webb - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Does Donald Trump's election mean you should put your 2017 plans to
visit Cuba back on ice?
It's too soon to tell what effect a Trump presidency could have on how
U.S. airlines operate to and from Cuba, a federal official cautioned
Jenny Rosenberg, acting assistant secretary for aviation and
international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, said in
a conference call with reporters that it's too soon to "speculate on the
current agreement that we have."
Both Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have emphasized that they
would work to undo President Barack Obama's efforts to normalize
relations between the two countries, a process started in 2014.
"We will cancel Obama's one-sided Cuban deal, made by executive order,
if we do not get the deal that we want, and the deal that people living
in Cuba and here deserve, including protecting religious and political
freedom," Trump said at a campaign rally in Miami just days before the
Air travel between the U.S. and Cuba had been limited to charter flights
until earlier this year when, as part of Obama's plan, the DOT approved
several airlines to provide regular commercial air service.
The first scheduled flight to Cuba in more than 50 years, a JetBlue
plane packed with officials and tourists, departed Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for Santa Clara on Aug. 31 —
a moment touted by the federal government as a landmark. It also came
just months after DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and Department of State
Assistant Secretary Charles Rivkin signed an arrangement to revive
Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta said in the conference
call — which was scheduled to discuss recent steps taken by the FAA to
launch partnerships in the Caribbean to boost air safety there — that
the U.S. and Cuba have a "technical and safety relationship" that
predates the most recent agreement.
"Cuba's airspace is directly adjacent to ours," he said. "We have to
have a technical relationship, a relationship that works efficiently."
Scheduled air service to Cuba "has been called for for a long time by
the aviation industry and the business community in general," he added,
noting that "there's tremendous opportunity to expand" existing operations.
Rosenberg said that charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba have been
ongoing, even when regular air service was not.
"I don't expect that would change under a new administration," she said.
Cuba's airspace is the third-largest for air traffic handoffs,
underscoring the importance of the FAA's new Caribbean Initiative to
improve air safety, Huerta said.
The FAA projects air traffic in the Caribbean could grow by 5 percent or
6 percent over the next 20 years, with more than 17 percent of
international flights that leave the U.S. heading to the region.
Adolfo Garcia, a corporate attorney and part-time Palm Beach resident
who advises and represents companies hoping to do business in Cuba, has
a personal connection to the issue: He's a Cuban exile, who came to the
U.S. at age 12 in February 1961.
He voted for Trump, and said that although the president-elect moved
further right in his position on Cuba from the beginning of the campaign
to the end, Garcia sees hope that the businessman-turned-politician will
continue working with Cuba.
"I would like to think that he will, in effect, be very pragmatic,"
In a letter sent to Trump on Thursday, Garcia called for him to "accept
the fact that one of President Obama's best decisions" was to begin
changing U.S. policy to allow more business to be done with Cuba.
"No matter how horrible the Castro Regime was to my parents and many
others, including me, this is late 2016 and life must go on," Garcia
wrote. "It is time from the US side to open fully with Cuba and change
US law and end the Embargo."
Garcia hopes that Trump will buck the "traditional, Republican, red,
very-conservative" view that the U.S. needs to hold onto the embargo.
To look at the election strictly from the perspective of someone who
wants to do business in Cuba, Hillary Clinton would have been preferred,
Garcia said. But as a small-government Republican, Garcia said he had to
look at the bigger picture first.
"The world today is very different, and when you look at our
international agreements and trade agreements … I think we need a fresh
approach," Garcia said.
The next step in the process is for Trump to work with Congress to end
the embargo — "life all restrictions on regarding doing business with
Cuba," Garcia said.
Source: Could Donald Trump presidency change how people travel to Cuba?
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