Travel between the US and Cuba has soared this year, thanks to the Obama administration. The president hasn’t officially changed any policies regarding Cuba, but permission to travel in or out is suddenly a lot easier to come by, applicants tell the Miami Herald. Joan Brown Campbell, Elian Gonzalez’s church lady friend, couldn’t get permission to fly to Cuba for four years in the Bush era but got the OK right away under Obama.
She also got permission to bring back seven academics. “This was very unusual,” she says. Applicants normally stand in long lines and wait months to receive visas. “I have been doing this for 35 years, and this was a shock to me.” The State Department says there hasn’t been any policy change, public or otherwise. “We’re just saying we are going back to what’s on the books," says a rep. "There is still a full review of every application.”