Why?I can go to Russia, Vietnam, communist China, and even North Korea or Iran, the latest American designated bogey man nations, but I can’t go to the benign island of 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 statist government in the so-called land of the free and home of the brave says: “No!,” “No” You can’t go.I wrote that just over a year ago in a piece entitled “Why Can’t I Go to Cuba,” in which I explained that a tiny minority of Cuban Americans, bitter about things that happened in Cuba more than 54 years ago, have successfully prevailed upon the U.S. government all this time to stifle American citizens travel opportunities to Cuba.
The irony is that Uncle Sam didn’t object to American-Cuban tourism when the brutal fascist right wing dictator Generalissimo Batista was looting the country and murdering its inhabitants.
There was no objection to Americans visiting Cuba when most of the Hotels, casinos and other popular tourist destinations were controlled by the most infamous of American mafia mobsters.
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.
But as soon as the communist Fidel Castro seized power and ended all the corruption, booting all the mafia gangsters out and obliging all the Cuban fat cats to flee; that’s when the U.S.A. slapped a total embargo on Cuba and forbade almost all Americans from visiting or spending any money there.
Mafia gangsters were fine but communists were not.
Communist dictators in China, Vietnam and many other totalitarian nations are some of America’s biggest allies and trading partners today. China alone has purchased $billions of dollars worth of our financial instruments, allowing our government to stay afloat, and also provides many thousands of imported products loved by American consumers.
Why has the United States continued to unreasonably and mercilessly pick on Cuba as the scapegoat for its disdain for communism while we wholeheartedly engage in trade and diplomatic relations with all the other communist and totalitarian hell holes on the planet?
Again, it’s that tiny minority of exiled Cuban Americans calling the shots and depriving the rest of us with the right to engage with our friendly Cuban neighbors.
These bitter and angry dissidents, currently led by Cuban-American politicians, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. House Reps, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, are presently crying foul over the fact that pop stars Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z were allowed to visit Cuba.
Rubio expressed anger over the by Beyonce and Jay-Z trip, calling it an opportunity that the Castro regime “seized on for propaganda purposes.”
They wrote letters to U.S. Department of Treasury saying that they represent a community that has been "deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime's atrocities."
Well, I have no doubt that some of the families of these Cuban exiles have suffered from the policies of the Castro regime. After all, he’s a communist despot, but so were the despots in China, Vietnam, North Korea, and other totalitarian states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Why is it that Americans can visit those places and spend money but not Cuba? It just doesn’t make any sense.
U.S. citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba for mere tourism, though they can obtain licenses from the government for academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange trips.
Those license requirements were tightened last year after Sen. Rubio, R-Fla., criticized the programs as cover-ups for tourism. Rubio derided groups that were granted licenses for activities such as salsa dancing and a trip to the Cuban Ministry of Culture.
Why is it that the U.S. is empowered to allow some handpicked citizens to enjoy travel to Cuba while denying the same opportunity to all other Americans?
Sen. Rubio still doesn’t want any Americans to go. But apparently his Cuban-born maternal grandfather was ordered deported from Florida a decade before Rubio’s birth because he flew in without a visa. So why isn’t he angry with the U.S. government? The U.S. is the real culprit in this story.
Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban economist and analyst who lectures at the University of Denver, said the Beyonce Jay-Z trip and subsequent fallout were "a call to take a fresh look at the U.S. policy toward Cuba with the candidness of an adolescent."
"It is difficult to defend a policy that stomps on the same rights it preaches," he wrote in a column published in The Huffington Post. "Since the migratory reforms made by Cuba in January, that eliminated most of the restrictions on travel from the totalitarian period, Cubans, under a communist regime have fewer legal impediments to visiting the U.S. than U.S. citizens have to visiting Cuba."
He’s right, Cuban political dissidents have greater freedom to travel abroad today than ordinary American citizens who are used to liberty and freedom.
While Sen. Rubio wants to make it a great deal harder for Americans to visit Cuba, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida, has called for easing rules on travel to the island.
She says that Cuban leader Raul Castro is making changes in the nation and that the United States should rethink its approach to travel and the embargo. “Cuba is changing,” she told reporters. “They are still a hard-core Communist nation, but they are embarking on market reforms in their economy that deserve encouragement.”
She is also right. There is no question that the government of Cuba wants to engage with and be friends with the United States. And 60% of Americans favor re-establishing ties with Cuba, according to the last Gallup poll on the question.
Secretary of State, John Kerry has long been in favor of ending cold war sanctions against Cuba’s communist regime. He has criticized the “power of the Cuban-American lobby” and a half-century of hatred of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro.
"We have a frozen, stalemated counterproductive policy [on Cuba], said Kerry in the year 2000. “… There's just a complete and total contradiction between the ways we deal with China, the way we deal with Russia, the way we have been dealing with Cuba. … The only reason we don't re-evaluate the policy is the politics of Florida.”
The U.S. should “engage” with Cuba just as we have with communist countries like Vietnam and China says our new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who has also been a long time critic of the 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba and restrictions on travel to the Caribbean nation.
It’s high time to lift the decade’s old embargo on a beautiful island and tourist destination located only 90 miles from our shores so that free American citizens no longer have to ask:
Why can’t I go to Cuba?