Senate amendment threatens BWI flights to Cuba

March 12, 2011

Baltimore is fortunate to be one of eight new cities added to the list of those airports able to serve travelers to Cuba ("BWI eligible to provide charter flights to Cuba," March 9).

Under current rules, Cuban-Americans, religious delegations, academics, researchers and business people seeking to sell agriculture products can travel to Cuba, and they will now be able to use Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for their departures.

Baltimore's status would be threatened, however, by an amendment written by Florida's Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey's Senator Bob Menendez to prevent all new airports from serving the Cuban market because these senators oppose engagement between the United States and Cuba.

Such thinking has isolated our nation from Cuba for 50 years, failed to bring down the Castro government, prevented our citizens from engaging with the Cuban people and restricted the rights of Americans to freely travel to Cuba.

Ultimately, all Americans should be allowed to travel to Cuba. Until then, the people of Baltimore need to be heard in the corridors of the U.S. Capitol to ensure that this expansion of travel service is protected and not sacrificed to the Cold War politics of the past.

Sarah Stephens, Washington

The writer is the executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

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