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Cuban-Americans Differ On Obama's Plan To Open Direct Travel From U.S. To Havana

UNION CITY, NJ(CBSNewYork) -- President Obama wants Americans to be able to hop on a plane at Newark Airport and fly direct to Havana.

New guidelines for traveling to Cuba are out and not all Cuban-Americans are happy about it.

In recent days President Obama's new policy has been discussed over countless cups of Cuban coffee at 'El Artesano,' a restaurant opened by Cuban immigrants over 40 years ago.

"I don't think he should be circumventing what the original intent, the Congress put the embargo because of the regime," Ignacio Alfonso told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

The Castro regime, which controls the economy, jails political opposition and stifles free speech.

President Obama believes engaging with Cuba will bring change, so he's making it easier to travel there.

Congress hasn't lifted the embargo, but the administration no longer wants to enforce it.

Americans will no longer be required to get special licenses to travel to Cuba and will no longer require all flights to be specially-licensed charters.

United Airlines already said it plans to initiate service from Newark-Liberty to Havana, subject to government approval.

That approval could take a while thanks to opponents like New Jersey's Cuban-American Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who doesn't want to provide Cuba with a tourism boom.

"Then you are helping the regime. The reason I say that is in Cuba, every hotel, the co-owner of that hotel is the Castro regime and the Castro military," Menendez said.

The thought of being able to fly direct to Havana, rather than changing planes in Florida, Mexico, or Canada appeals to some Cuban-Americans.

"It'll be great especially for the Cuban community, people that haven't seen their family in many years," Miguel Letourneaut said.

Once there it will be easier to spend money, a ban on using credit cards in Cuba will no longer be enforced.


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