A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Tuesday introduced a bill in the Congress that would allow U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba, reports say. However, even if the travel ban were lifted the broader trade embargo would remain in place.
The U.S., which has imposed trade and travel bans on Cuba since 1962 after Fidel Castro took power in Havana in 1959, only allows its citizens to go to Cuba, if they are journalists or on a humanitarian mission.
Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, one of the bill's sponsors along with senior Republican Senator Richard Lugar, said this present policy had failed for 50 years and he believed the bill would win enough votes in the U.S. Congress to see it through.
They said the bill would free Americans to travel to the one place in the world they had been barred and encourage Cubans to push for democratic reforms by exposing them to new people and information.
But Republican Mel Martinez said the U.S. should support pro-democracy activists, not the Castro regime.
A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives--also with support from members of both parties.
According to an independent research group removing the travel ban would give a much-needed boost for tourism, create thousands of jobs and generate as much as $1.6 billion in business a year.
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