But times are a changing, lawmakers are urging President Obama.
With Dictator Fidel Castro reportedly on his last leg (or on the island playing hoops on two healthy legs depending on who you believe), the time is now to allow U.S. citizens who have relatives and friends in Cuba to go visit, lawmakers say.
Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, has solicited the help of several high-ranking Republicans to sponsor a bill that would prevent the president from stopping travel to Cuba except in cases of war, imminent danger to public health or threats to the physical safety of U.S. travelers. But not everyone is anxious to open the doors for willy nilly Cuban travel.
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Cuban-born Florida Sen. Mel Martinez said he would continue to oppose the legislation.
Cuba is the only country in the world the U.S. bars travel to, which kind of takes a page from Castro's play book.
"This is the time to support pro-democracy activists in Cuba, not provide the Castro regime with a resource windfall," he said.
Obama, who has already backed easing some restrictions on Cuban travel, will likely have to address the issue at a Latin Americas conference in Trinidad next month.
The travel embargo, said North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, is a "failed policy that has failed for 50 years."