Visitors To Cuba From U.S. On Pace Not Seen Since The '50s.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


As many as 400,000 U.S. citizens are expected to visit Cuba by year's end, Nick Miroff reports from Havana for NPR. That's five times more than in 2008, the year before the Obama administration lifted travel restrictions for those with family on the island, and a number not seen since before the Cuban revolution.

Nick says the boom has convinced Cuban officials to double capacity at one of the country's airport terminals. And now, scenes of "tearful Cuban emigres rushing to embrace their relatives, their baggage carts loaded with Santa-sized sacks of gifts," are common.

Reuters notes that since "more than 1,000 travelers from the United States are arriving every day ... Havana's long-time foe (is now) its second source of visitors after Canada."

Nick's going to have more on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. While reporting, he spoke with 71-year-old Juan Francisco Hernandez, who now gets regular visits from a brother who lives in Miami. It would be a "huge benefit" to both Cuba and the U.S. if travel rules were further eased, Hernandez says (Nick provides the translation):

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