Somehow, this Reuters article on the recent boon in travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans in the United States since the Obama administration relaxed travel restrictions made it through the censors. The main topics the article addresses are the large increase in passengers and flights to Cuba, and the effects that Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism may have on those flights. And sure enough, up until the end, the article remains on message.
(Reuters) - When a recent flight from Miami touched down at Havana's Jose Marti Airport, a passenger shouted "Viva Cuba!" in a show of the enthusiasm Cuban Americans have for returning to their homeland.
Since President Barack Obama lifted restrictions last year on their visits to Cuba aiming to increase people-to-people contact, they are coming in such numbers that Cuba has had to remodel the airport terminal for U.S. flights.
The immediate beneficiaries are the eight U.S.-based charter services who operate the only flights allowed from the United States and who say business is booming.
The only foreseeable fly in the ointment, they say, is the U.S. government's inclusion of Cuba in countries where U.S.-bound passengers must undergo extra screening, which Cuba has protested.
The charter companies say direct flights by Cuban Americans to their homeland skyrocketed 70 percent in 2009 and are expected to jump another 36 percent this year.
Cuban officials recently said about 250,000 Cuban exiles visited the island from the United States in 2009 up from an estimated 170,000 the year before, when many found a way around the old restrictions by traveling through third countries.
Obama, who has said he wants better relations with Cuba, lifted restrictions imposed under President George W. Bush that limited Cuban Americans to one visit home every three years.
The result, said Armando Garcia, president of Miami-based Marazul Charters, "has been a tremendous growth and 2010 looks incredible."
"I would say we will reach 300,000 passengers just from the U.S. (this year)," he told Reuters.
At the end of the article, however, they let loose a little fact that advocates of ending travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans would prefer to be kept under wraps.
One U.S. transportation official in Washington told Reuters all indications suggest Cuba does comply with security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, but declined to comment on the new security measures.
John Kavulich, senior adviser at the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council in New York, thinks it unlikely Washington will make an exception for Cuba unless it faces mounting pressure from Cuban exiles annoyed with the requested pat downs.
With Cuban Americans emerging as Cuba's second-largest source of visitors after Canadians, Kavulich said he expects Cuba will somehow accommodate the new regulations to keep the flights, and the money they bring in, coming.
Cuban Americans are an important source of dollars for the communist regime as it deals with the global economic downturn.
"They will comply in a meaningful way because the revenue stream is pretty significant and important," he said.
Gee... talk about unintended (or intended) consequences. Funny how the media and engagement proponents all called the intransigent, hardline, unreasonable, and belly-aching Cuban exile community crazy for suggesting that increased travel to Cuba would result in the pouring of cash into the Castro regime's pockets.
Somewhere there is a Reuters editor getting chewed out by his DGI handler.