Cuba has become an important travel destination for many Europeans who want to enjoy the country’s beaches, foods, and inexpensive hotels. US citizens, however, have not been able to visit Cuba freely since 1960 because of an embargo placed against the country that prevents Americans from spending money there. Even though Cuba is just a short boat ride from the Florida Keys, it remains extremely difficult for Americans to visit the country legally. Permission from the US federal government is not given lightly.
Collin Peterson, a Congressman from Minnesota, wants to change that. He has written a bill that would prevent the President of the United States from barring travel to Cuba. Such bills have been written before, and have obviously not had the effects that the authors wanted. This time, though, Mr. Peterson has the backing of 74 Cuban dissidents who believe that the US embargo against Cuba has created an environment in which Cuban authorities are willing and able to use forceful tactics to prevent political opposition.
One of the supporters, Guillermo Farinas, has been on a hunger strike for the past three months. He refuses to quit his opposition until ill political prisoners are freed from their cells.
In order for the House to vote on Mr. Peterson’s bill, it first has to pass a committee hearing. Previous attempts have not made it beyond that stage.
At this point in American history, though, it seems absurd to carry on this charade preventing US citizens from freely exploring the world. Americans can visit countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China without difficulty. Yet they cannot travel a short distance to learn more about a culture that exists just to our south? This tactic of exclusion might have made sense in the ’60s, but it should be clear by now that it blocks US citizens from freedom more so than it harms the Cuban economy.
We’re no longer worrying about Soviet missiles located in Cuba. And the only time that the word “communism” is used is when flustered politicians want to demean opponents without justification.
It’s well beyond time that politicians get with the plan and start representing the interests of voters. That interest cannot mean restricting travel for petty political reasons. Opening travel to Cuba from the US will improve relations between the countries, increase the freedom that Americans expect, and make it more difficult for corrupt politicians in Cuba to mistreat citizens for their own gain.
(Image via: Frenchcreoles.com)