John Kerry says Carnival shouldn't allow Cuba to dictate who travels on its cruises

Carnival says Cuba does not allow Cuban-born citizens to travel to island by sea

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI - Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Local 10 News senior political reporter Michael Putney on Thursday, expressing his concern over Carnival Cruise Line's announcement that Cuban-born Americans will not be allowed on its Fathom cruises to the island.

"This great glorious fight against the United States is over. We're ready to normalize," he said.

Carnival has said that the company understands the concerns and believes that everyone should be able to travel to Cuba by ship, but said that its hands are tied by the Cuban government, which allows Cubans to travel to the island only by air, not sea.

Kerry told Putney that while he admires the Arison family, which owns Carnival, and their great work for the community, they should reconsider allowing the Cuban government to dictate who goes on their cruises.

"I would counsel them that they need to be sensitive to the fact of discrimination and they should not embrace a policy that is Cuban, which winds up discriminating against Americans," Kerry said.

Putney also asked Kerry about the alarming crackdown on Cuban dissidents and human rights abuses on the island.

"I don't like it. I’m not condoning it," Kerry said. "I don't suggest that we want short-term contentions, but the point is that it proves that the system is in a sort of elastic stage where people are pulling and then it pulls back a bit, and then they pull some more. That's part of the change."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also spoke against the cruise line's decision on Wednesday, saying that the company might be violating local discrimination laws.

"My kids, my grandchildren -- they can all get on the cruise ship, but my wife and I can't, just simply because we were born in Cuba," Gimenez said.

A lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of two Cuban-born citizens, claiming that the cruise line is discriminating against Americans who were born on the island.

"I was born in Cuba, and haven't been back in 58 years," Francisco Marty said in a statement. "I'm a Carnival Platinum Club member and unable to fly for health reasons. I wanted to go back to see my native country and share its culture with a surprise trip with my children, but Carnival will not allow my Cuban-born daughter and me to go on its ship."

Carnival said it has asked the communist country to change its policy.

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