Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sneaking into Cuba

It didn’t attract much notice, but some members of Congress are moving to lift the travel restrictions to Cuba.

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 4 would allow American citizens unrestricted travel to Cuba for the first time since 1963. The bill by Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., and eight co-sponsors would also lift limits on travel by Cuban exiles living in the United States. The president would not be able to regulate travel to the island unless an armed conflict or armed danger arises.

The bill has gone too far, said Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation. Cuban exiles should visit their families whenever they want, but tourists shouldn’t spend money in resorts that Cubans are barred from. “It’s improper and should not be allowed until the Cuban government makes some reforms,” he said.


Many expect President Barack Obama to back a change in the policy. As a candidate for the presidency, Obama spoke in favor of reducing restrictions on remittances and travel to the island.

Co-sponsors to the bill include representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Sam Farr, D-Calif., and Ron Paul, R- Texas.

Not to put too cynical a point on it, but I’m pretty sure that some of the people who are screaming the loudest against lifting the restrictions will be the first to line up for a flight to Havana.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the embargo and travel restrictions have done nothing to change the mind of the Castro brothers and their dictatorship. If anything, it’s shored it up by giving them an excuse to stay in power, keep up the repression, and blame all of their self-inflicted woes on the Yanquis. And since only one other country — Israel — enforces an embargo, it’s a flimsy barrier and excuse for both sides. It’s time for this pecker contest to come to an end.