As I have mentioned before, I’m under the distinct impression that the Obama administration will water-down the Cuban embargo to the point where it becomes meaningless.
Orbitz, the travel people, are looking ahead to booking some vacations when that happens:
Blending commerce with politics, Chicago’s Orbitz Worldwide is launching a campaign this week aimed at getting Congress to reverse a law that prohibits travel to Cuba for most U.S. citizens and green-card holders.
Starting Sunday through a Web site at www.opencuba.org, Orbitz visitors can petition the White House, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of Congress to eliminate the decades-old trade and travel restrictions.
They’re eager, alright,
Borrowing a page from the Obama presidential campaign, Orbitz is trying to build grass-roots support for opening travel to the island by appealing directly to the 14 million monthly visitors to its Web site.
“We want to organize our customers and other interested parties to reach out to Obama and other government officials,” said Barney Harford, 37, the energetic president and chief executive of Orbitz.
A British national, Harford became enamored with Cuban culture and music during a 1997 trip to Havana and surrounding areas. “This is a magical country,” he said.
Orbitz created its Cuba campaign in Internet speed. Energized by a White House visit with the president in March, Harford decided to rally his company behind a social cause and selected Cuba. His engineers built the Web site in just two weeks.
In its haste, Orbitz hasn’t solicited support from Cuban-American leaders, although Harford says that is next on its agenda.
It’s a bigger gamble than Orbitz probably suspects: first, the Cuban regime is going to continue to picture the US as the “enemy empire”. Additionally, it’s not in the regime’s interest to flood the country with Americans, particularly those who stand for freedom,
But even if the ban is abolished, Cuba is likely to constrict travel for the near term, experts said. Cuba’s leadership is likely to restrict travel visas in the hope of thwarting visitors who might foment discontent.
And then there’s the stark reality of Cuba itself.