Press Releases

US Should Expand Travel to Cuba

Date Released: 8/24/2010

Provost Damian Fernandez co-authors Brookings Institiution policy brief encouraging cultural diplomatic strategy allowing expanded travel to Cuba for American citizens.

The document  by Dora Beszterczey, Andy Gomez, and Damian Fernandez

encourages a U.S. policy that adopts a cultural diplomatic strategy allowing expanded travel to Cuba for American private citizens to engage with Cuban society.   


The paper argues that if U.S. policy toward Cuba is to be truly forward looking it should further expand its focus away from the Castro government to the well-being of the Cuban people.  This can be achieved through instituting a cultural diplomacy strategy that authorizes a broad cross-section of American private citizens and civil society to travel to the island to engage Cuban society and share their experiences as citizens of a democratic country.


Recent developments on the island, including the release of dozens of political prisoners, have helped create the right political movement to take action.


The authors make the case that since 2004, when such travel was curtailed, U. S. insights about the needs, interests and organizational capacities of community groups and grassroots organizations were severely limited.  Today, as Cuba’s nascent civil society stretches far beyond the dissident movement-to encompass the blogosphere, religious groups, youth organizations, and agricultural cooperatives, among others--their objectives, too, are more multifaceted and fast evolving.  At a time of change in Cuba, increased people-to-people contacts would allow a more fluid, nimble response to engage with the needs and interests of the Cuban people.


To access the full article go to



The Brookings’s Institution’s work on U.S. Cuba Relations explores new policy approaches to break the stalemate in relations between the United States and Cuba.


Through original research and frank dialogue among policymakers, academics and other stakeholders, US. Cuba Relations, seeks to generate pragmatic strategies for engagement that serve U.S. interests in building trust, strengthening cooperation and improving the lives of the Cuban people.


The group is led by Ted Piccone, senior fellow and deputy director for Foreign Policy. Dr. Fernandez and Dr. Gomes both serve as advisors to the Brookings project on U.S. Cuban Relations.


 Andy Gomez is Associate Provost and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.


 Damian Fernandez is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science at Purchase College.


Dora Beszterczey is a Research Associate for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and previously served as a Research Assistant at Brookings.