Sometimes, politics paint the entire view of a country. It’s not fair to the people living there, but it happens.
Cuba is one such country. Many Americans think of communism first and foremost, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis scare in 1962. To this day, the US still has an embargo against Cuba, which prevents the US from trading and doing business with Cuba. And somehow, the US military is still parked in Guantanamo Bay.
Missiles, communism, and an embargo. No wonder Americans think Cuba is a forbidden land.
But actually, it is completely legal for American citizens to visit Cuba. By US law, you just need to support local businesses rather than government-run establishments. As an American citizen myself, it was easy to enter Cuba with a valid US passport and a visa I bought at the airport. (Read up on other requirements by reading my American entry guide into Cuba here.)
Cuba is so much more than its politics and history. For one thing, the troubles between the US and Cuba were a thing of the past. This isn’t the 1960s. This isn’t the Cold War. This is the 2020s. Those missiles have long since been removed. And yet, the US still has an embargo against Cuba that’s suffocating the Cuban economy. This embargo makes Cuba feel far away from the US, even though it’s a neighbor only 90 miles away.
So, is Cuba actually safe for Americans to visit?
Yes, it very much is. During my nine days in Cuba, I had no hesitation in telling locals that I came from the United States. The Cuban people have nothing against American citizens. You’re not the problem. They’re not going to hate you. They know that politics and people are different. If anything, they welcome Americans. That’s because they welcome all visitors, regardless of politics and history.
The (old) conflicts are about the politics. Your visit isn’t about politics. Your visit is about the people, the music, the culture, the beauty of this Caribbean island.
I encourage you to open your mind and heart to learn about the politics and economy from their side of the story, too. If anything, they are distraught by their current economic crisis. By choosing to visit Cuba, you’re financially helping the locals and filling your heart with the warmth of a Caribbean nation blessed with rich culture, tropical scenes, and a fun spice of life.
My American friends and I were treated with kindness, whether or not they knew we were American.
I’ll never forget when my friends offered money to some Cubans for cigarettes at a dance club, but the Cubans gave away the cigs and refused the money. That’s too nice.
Or the mother, formerly a professor and now a tour guide, who shared slice-of-life stories about her son and pet bunny. At the moment, her son was really interested in dinosaurs, remembering all their names.
Cuban people are real people with real stories living out their lives, just like we are.
And you shouldn’t have a huge problem with communication as many Cubans know basic English. It’s a required subject in Cuban elementary schools, after all.
The main safety concern while traveling through Cuba is to be careful of pickpockets and scams in touristy areas. It’s no different when you visit other countries in the world. It’s a simple matter of watching your belongings and not exchanging money in the street.
The US-imposed embargo makes Cuba look like a forbidden country, but it’s not really like that at all. Join me and many other Americans who’ve soaked in the vibrant spirit, culture, and fun of Cuba. Experience the beauty of this island for yourself.
US politics may change, and you never know if the doors to Cuba will open wider or close even further. This is why you should come while the doors are still open.
The Cuban people often said to me, “Tell your friends to come here.”
And that’s what I’m doing right now.
The Cubans would love to see you!