Buffalo, NY – It’s been 50 years now since the United States has restricted travel to Cuba for Americans, but despite the ban there is one group that’s been traveling to the island nation, and they had to head through Buffalo on their way down south.
The Venceremos Brigade, or brigadistas as they’re referred to stopped at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport Sunday afternoon on their way to Toronto.
Over the last 43 years their main goal has been to bring as many Americans illegally to Cuba so that they can see their country for themselves through what’s called a “travel challenge.”
The 31 brigadistas who made the trip could only get to Cuba by flying out of Canada. Malcolm Sacks told 2 On Your Side his group is asserting it’s constitutional right to travel to “sanctioned” island that’s located less than 100 miles from Florida.
Part of their trip includes delivering over 1,000 pounds of material aid to the Cubans, and also volunteer on civic projects there.
Since 1962 the only way Americans can “legally” visit Cuba is by getting a special license from Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control which enforces the travel restrictions.
Sacks says these illegal trips over the past 43 years have had some effects.
“The restrictions are enforced less and less thanks to these types of efforts although our goal is to have them eliminated completely and to have relations normalized between the U-S and Cuba,” said Sacks.
2 On Your Side also talked to US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and asked him about Americans traveling to Cuba. Schumer said, “They can get certain kinds of permits. It’s difficult to get and there are limits on them, but we should, the way to bring down the Castro regime is open up Cuba and let students go without going through a lot of rigamarole.”
Last year President Obama announced plans to ease travel restrictions to allow students and church groups to travel to Cuba for academic credit and religious purposes.
The Brigaditas will return July 23, but will walk across the Peace Bridge into Buffalo while having rallies on both sides of the bridge.
Americans Travel To Cuba Despite Travel Ban