Coalition Letter Urges President Obama to Restore Academic Travel to Cuba

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WASHINGTON, July 22 /-USNewswire/ -- With a new academic year quickly approaching, NAFSA: Association of International Educators and a diverse group of 18 organizations today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to remove current restrictions on academic travel to Cuba.

The letter applauds the President's recent actions with respect to Cuba and asks him to take further steps toward his goal of setting U.S.-Cuban relations on a new path by restoring academic travel between the two countries.

Citing the many benefits of academic exchanges and their history of success in advancing democratic change and strengthening relations between the United States and other countries, the letter suggests that a policy of open academic travel between the United States and Cuba would align well with the President's interest in expanding opportunities for exchanges between young people around the world. As President Obama recently said to a group of students in Turkey, "exchanges can break down the walls between us."

Unfortunately, study abroad among Americans to Cuba has declined precipitously since the Bush administration imposed restrictive regulations on academic travel to the island in 2004. According to the latest data available from the Institute of International Education, only 220 American college students studied in Cuba during the 2006-2007 academic year. Three years earlier, ten times that many students had done so.

In addition to urging the President to restore academic travel to Cuba via general license, the letter supports the granting of U.S. visas for Cubans coming to the United States for exchange purposes and the announcement of a policy favoring academic, cultural, religious, sports and professional visits, and also urges Cuban authorities to grant exit visas for students and scholars accepted by U.S. academic institutions.

The letter was signed by the following organizations:

American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange

American Institute for Foreign Study

CIEE - Council on International Educational Exchange

Community Colleges for International Development

Cuba Academic Alliance

Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel

Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Latin American Studies Association

Latin America Working Group

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Foreign Trade Council

Orbitz Worldwide

Partners of the Americas

Social Science Research Council

The OpenCuba.org Campaign

USA*Engage

Washington Office on Latin America

The full text of the letter is available here.

With 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest professional association dedicated to international education. Visit us online, and find us on Twitter, Facebook, and the NAFSA blog.

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