I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba. It is a beautiful Caribbean island, I’m told, with many cultural attractions, nice people, great food, and lively music. But I’m an American and my government tells me that I am not at liberty to go there. If I do, I’d be committing a crime.
I can go to Russia, communist China, and even Iran, the latest American designated bogey man nation, but I can’t go to Cuba, a nation that has never posed any threat whatsoever to me, or to the United States of America. I can visit just about any other nation in the world if they would have me, and I’m sure that Cuba would, but my Uncle Sam in the land of the free and home of the brave says “No!” You can’t go.
It wasn’t always that way. Back in the 1950’s and before, Cuba was the place to go for Americans looking for a good time. It was a safe, fashionable and cheap vacation spot, despite the fact that the Island was all mobbed up with probably one of the most corrupt governments on Earth.
Generalissimo Batista and his gang of right-wing fascist thugs had been in the business of looting and oppressing the Cuban people for years. The United States Navy used to dock vessels there on a regular basis to provide R and R for our sailors. They loved the place. Uncle Sam loved it too. My government wasn’t objecting to Cuba then as a vacation destination for me.
But then Batista went a bit too far, his people revolted for good reason, and their leader, Fidel Castro, a communist dictator, came to power. Now the Cubans are oppressed from the left instead of the right. He put an end to the corruption. He booted out the mob. In the process, he pissed off old Uncle Sam. And things haven’t been quite the same between our two nations since 1959.
The Russians tried to plant a few nuclear missiles there in 1962 when they thought they could get away with it. So Uncle Sam slapped an embargo on the Cuban people, a sanction which continues to this day despite the fact that the Russians backed down quickly and removed the threat.
Fidel Castro has never overtly threatened the American people even after our thugs tried to assassinate him several times. Most of the Cuban fat cats fled to the United States following the communist take-over. They’re the ones who want to punish Castro and the people they left behind.
So no American can do business with Cuba since then. We can’t sell to them. We can’t buy from them. We can’t even visit their beautiful island; much less enjoy their quality cigars. Cuba is our designated enemy simply because their government is communist and a bunch of Cuban American exiles are bitter about it.
China is communist too, and presents a far greater threat to us than Cuba, but they aren’t considered our enemy. Now I don’t like communism; in fact I hate it. I don’t like statism of any kind, including the brand practiced by my own government, but that doesn’t prevent me from doing business with statists as a practical matter and for my own good. I don’t boycott and embargo statists just because they are statists.
But a relatively small number of Cuban-American exiles, still bitter over the hated Fidel Castro for more than 50 years now have prevailed upon my government to prevent me from visiting Cuba.
The Republican candidates for president are pandering to these folks to get their votes. Mitt Romney is no exception. He strongly criticized President Obama in a speech before a Cuban group in Miami for easing up slightly in relations between the United States and Cuba, and took a cheap shot at Castro in the process.
"If I'm fortunate to become the next president of the United States, it is my expectation that Fidel Castro will finally be taken off this planet," Romney told the US-Cuba Democracy PAC. "I doubt he'll take any time in the sky. He'll find a nether region to be more to his comfort."
What the hell did he mean by that? Will the United States of America be trying to assassinate a feeble old man again just because he’s a communist? That’s patently insane. Fidel Castro is clearly no threat to us now, if he ever was. He’s not even in power now. When he was in power he wanted to normalize relations with us.
Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, the man in power now, wants to normalize relations. He actually wants me to visit his country. He wants to buy American products. He wants to sell to us. He wants to be friends. Left alone, Cuban communism will crumble from its own weight, just as it did in Russia, and just as it is doing in China.
But no – a few bitter Cuban exiles want to put a stop to it for spite. And his audience cheered when Romney faulted Obama for easing ever so slightly some restrictions on traveling and sending remittances to Cuba by Cuban-Americans.
"This president does not understand that by helping Castro, he is not helping the people of Cuba. He is hurting them. He is not putting forward a policy of freedom, he is accommodating and encouraging a policy of oppression," said Romney. "If I'm president of the United States, we will return to Helms-Burton and the law, [strict embargo sanctions] and we will not give Castro any gifts."
I guess I don’t understand either. I think it’s all a lot of nonsense. A half century of embargo has done absolutely nothing for Americans but has terribly and unfairly impoverished the Cuban people.
Why can’t I go to Cuba?