Engage Cuba Statement on State Department Decision to Downgrade Cuba Travel Advisory

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Engage Cuba President James Williams released the following statement on the news of the U.S. Department of State's decision to change its Cuba Travel Advisory from Level 3, “reconsider travel,” to Level 2, “exercise increased caution.” 

“There has been a glaring discrepancy in the Trump administration’s response to health incidents in Cuba versus in China. We are glad to see the State Department take the first step to rectify this. Decisions regarding the health and safety of Americans should be guided by facts, not politics. 

Discouraging Americans from traveling to Cuba and reducing the embassy to a skeleton staff hurts U.S. interests, Cuba’s nascent private sector, and human rights on the island. 

We believe the safety of our diplomats is a top priority, and we support and encourage the ongoing investigation into the health incidents affecting U.S. personnel. At the same time, we believe that Americans and Cubans alike are safer and better served when we let the Foreign Service do its job. We urge the State Department to fully restore our embassy in Havana," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. 

Last year, the State Department cut U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba from 50 to 14. The U.S. also expelled a reciprocal 60 percent of Cuban personnel from their embassy in Washington, D.C. It was reported earlier this month that the Trump administration plans to reduce tours of duty at the U.S. Embassy to just one year.

On August 16, the Congressional Research Service issued a memo to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee illustrating the negative impacts of the drastic reduction in embassy staff, including limited services to Americans in Cuba, difficulty monitoring human rights and political changes on the island, and a virtual cessation of visa processing.