Cuban-Americans allowed to visit Cuba by recreational boat

A Cuban policy change could affect hundreds of thousands of Floridians.
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Commodore José M. Diaz Escrich of the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Cuba (which is shown here) says authorities reversed a previous decision and will allow Cuban-Americans who were born in Cuba to come to the country on recreational boats.

Commodore José M. Diaz Escrich of the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Cuba (which is shown here) says authorities reversed a previous decision and will allow Cuban-Americans who were born in Cuba to come to the country on recreational boats.

A Cuban policy change could affect hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

The revision would present the U.S. marine industry with new opportunities while challenging individual American boaters who are now allowed to visit Cuba.

José M. Diaz Escrich, commodore of the Hemingway International Yacht Club in Havana, told Peter Swanson, a longtime contributor to Soundings and the event content manager for the Active Interest Media Marine Group, that Cuban authorities have decided to reverse their previous policy and allow Cuban-Americans who were born in Cuba to visit by recreational vessel.

There are 1.25 million Cuban Americans living in Florida, just a hundred miles from the Cuban coast, and more than half of them were born in Cuba.

The move follows a decision earlier this year in which the Cuban government backed off on a ban on Cuban-American arrivals by cruise ship.

Escrich said that although the decision has been made, Cuban policymakers are working out the details and procedures for admitting Cuban-American boaters.

“So far Cuban residents abroad cannot land in the Cuban marinas. Cuban marinas are getting prepared to receive Cuban residents abroad. When these conditions are ready, they will be publicly announced,” Escrich wrote in an Aug. 17 email to Swanson.

“Note the wording,” Swanson writes. “Escrich uses the phrase ‘Cuban residents abroad.’ Cuba’s regime does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S. citizens who are Cuban-born, and it requires them to purchase a Cuban passport to visit family members who still live in the island nation.”

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