Flights to Cuba to start from Fort Myers
RSW – HAV will be the newest available flight option starting Nov. 1. Por Cuba Viajo Express will be the only airline offering nonstop flights from Fort Myers to Havana, Cuba. It also offers flights out of the Naples airport that make one stop in Key West.
Por Cuba Viajo Express will be offering the nonstop, one hour and 15 minute flights on Mondays and Fridays. The price will be $449 round-trip until Dec. 15.
On July 20, seven months after President Barack Obama announced his plans to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, embassies in both countries reopened. Though the Cuba embargo has been in effect since 1960, travel to Cuba is now available under certain circumstances.
Based on the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, tourism is not legally allowed in Cuba. However, a citizen must under one of are 12 different categories a U.S. citizen to obtain a visa to travel to Cuba. The most popular one is “people-to-people.”
The United States Treasury website says those traveling under the people-to-people travel category are authorized to engage in certain educational exchanges and to promote people-to-people contact.
Those traveling to Cuba with a visa obtained under this category must be accompanied by an employee from the company they are representing to ensure the majority of the activities they do are within the allowance of the country’s laws.
Yaselqui Salbador, Por Cuba Viajo Express’s vice president, said the airline offers flights and personalized tours.
“We offer the most personalized experience for our customers to be able to see Cuba how they want to see it,” Salbador said.
Although tourism is not allowed, the people-to-people visa offers enough flexibility that a person can feel like a tourist while in Cuba. The educational visa also offers students the opportunity to live and study in the country.
Salbador said they offer special pricing on trips for students. Those are pre-set from Monday to Friday and have an itinerary that takes students to visit the various universities in and around Havana, as well as to see some of the sites.
FGCU math professor Tony Planas told Eagle News that traveling to Cuba supports a corrupt Communist government, which ultimately does not better the economy. Private businesses are barely allowed; the government owns the majority of hotels and venues where money is spent. Though the country has many beautiful sites, the reality is that the majority of Cubans live in poverty, and he does not support tourism that benefits that government and economy.
Since 1965, when Fidel Castro founded the Communist Party of Cuba (el Partido Comunista de Cuba), Cuba has been considered a socialist country that follows the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Planas and his family lived in Cuba for many years. He attempted to leave Cuba in the late 1970s. “I was not allowed to leave and was forced to stop working as a math professor, and to work in the farms for three years before I could come to the United States,” Planas said.
Without doing three years of community service, a Cuban citizen was not allowed to leave the country, and was to do as the government told them.
Planas has been back to Cuba only twice since leaving in 1980, first in 2006, after being denied visas at least three times. Until major changes are made in the government there, he does not plan on going back.