• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Will a "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" Lead to Freedom in Cuba?

    Four members of the U.S. Senate on March 31 introduced S. 428S, “The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act.” A similar measure will follow in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, as legislation goes, is quite simple: it forbids the President to “regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents,” and repeals all previous travel restrictions.

    Ultimately most arguments for lifting the travel ban [and the trade embargo which is clearly the real target of many in Congress] blame the U.S. for the pesky persistence of communism in Cuba. They assume that 1) since restrictions have failed to change Cuba in 50 years, being nice will; 2) lifting prohibitions will deprive the Castro regime of its justification for repression, 3] waves of free spending U.S. visitors will open doors for real democratic change, 4] abundant commercial opportunities will emerge, and 5] all of Latin America will like us more once we quit hectoring Cuba for its totalitarian practices.

    The Senate and House bills go into the hopper before the Obama Administration has completed its review of Cuba policy or articulated its Cuba strategy based on some presumptive effort for reciprocity and democratic transformation in Cuba.

    Unlike previous measures dropping curbs on travel and remittances by Cuban-American in the 2009 Omnibus Budget bill, S. 428 and its House counterpart will require a debate and a Senate and House vote.

    Outside the growing “Fidel-has-won” crowd stands, among others, Senator Robert Menendez, (D-NJ). The Senator recently observed, “Over the years, millions of Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans, South and Central Americans, among others, have visited Cuba, invested in Cuba, spent billions of dollars, signed trade agreements and engaged politically. And what has been the result of all of that money and all of that engagement? The regime has not opened up; on the contrary, it has used resources to become more oppressive.”

    One needs to recall a few points as the debate warms up. 1] the absence of change in Cuba is the result of the Castro dictatorship, not the fault of the U.S.; 2] the axis of Castro’s dictatorship has and remains virulent anti-Americanism; 3] free-spending Europeans and Canadians have failed to change Cuba’s repressive policies; 4] the communist economic model is broken and violently fears a free market; 5] by embracing Cuba as they do, without democratic change or greater freedoms, regional leaders have tarnished their commitments to democracy as signatories to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

    So Senator Menendez further says: “Let’s duke it out …let’s have our debate… Let’s know who’s for democracy and human rights and who wants to sell their stuff no matter how many people are in prison…”

    The fighting will be interesting and hopefully it is the voiceless Cuban people – not the politicians, lobbying groups, and, certainly not, the Castro brothers – who win in end.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Will a "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" Lead to Freedom in Cuba?

    1. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      If Cuba is so fantastic, why are Cubans willing to risk their lives on rafts and small boats to come to the US?

      I think that these four Senatorial losers just want to add another State to the United Socialist States of America!

    2. Franklin's Lock says:

      Who wants to go to Cuba anyway? Who wants to go and see Communism and oppression at work? This just ducktails with the polices of the Democrats of NOT standing up for anything and capitulating to everything.


    3. Geoffrey, South Caro says:

      Well I guess the tourists can see the statue of the great dictator and communist Castro!:(

    4. Frank, Cincinnatti says:

      I am a US citizen. I lived in Cuba legally for 5 years. I have a profound understanding of the insidious stranglehold of the system Castro has put in place.

      Focusing on money from tourism is besides the point.

      The Cuban government withstood the devastation that came with the loss of Soviet subsidies. And not much changed when foreign investors from everywhere but the US were allowed in. Nor did it change when Chavez started sending billions daily or Fidel got sick and handed over power to his brother.

      Why didn't these events change Cuba? Because the system is a perfect, diabolical system of complete control.

      The same applies for visitors from the US. There is no way the Cuban government could handle a flood of US visitors nor would they allow it. If the travel ban is lifted, the Cuban government will severely restrict entry for US citizens. I am certain they will require visas and restrict travel to certain areas of the country, such as the all-inclusive resorts, and only allow it under certain conditions like government-run tours.

      This would at least clear up the confusion over which party is restricting freedom.

    5. Henry Agueros says:

      Cuba has become an island for people looking for a beautiful place that offers cheap sex. Cuba has become a cathouse and the castro bros. are the Madam.

    6. Peter Pan, from neve says:

      Hi, I'm Cuban and I back Frank from Cincinnatti.

      All these greedy bastards from Congress are doing is securing a big piece of the pie. It's all about greed and money, not about the well-being of Cuba and its people.

      Only a Cuban (or someone who has lived there long enough) can have a fair idea how twisted, perverse and paranoid that system is. I could write pages about this, but I'll put it very simple.

      Nothing on Earth, I mean no money, no riches, anything is worth nothing when there is no freedom.

      Nobody mentions the Cuban apartheid, yet it's even worse that South Africa's. Thousands of Cubans gave their lives to destroy apartheid. Yet, those same Cubans are discriminated against daily, in their own country, treated as third class citizens. Tourists come, bring their money, and most are so naive to believe that they are "helping" the country. No, you're not. At some point they will have to understand that you can't help a country that's run like a hacienda. All money from all state-run businesses go to one single bank account. Where's the transparency and accountability that a free democratic society needs? The state controls everything, everyone, all the time. Big brother is watching!

      The state controls everything, down to cellular level, the press, the mass media, education, what our children read, and learn. They indoctrinate children from kindergarten, all the way up. Not even Hitler's nazis were so imaginative.

      They control who you are, what you say, what you feel, what you do, what you eat, what you watch, where you work. They make all the decisions for you. They want Cubans to hang their brains to dry. They keep them "informed", by hiding everything the whole world says, complete censorship. Why would Cubans need free access to Internet, if we can do a better job? Cubans have no access to internet, no international news, because everything coming from outside is wrong. "We" are right.

      I have always found very hard to understand why most foreigners who "support" the regime in one way or another have never wondered if they would accept that type of lives in their countries of origin, for themselves.

      Would they accept their governments denying them the right to free information, internet access and free e-mail? Would they allow their governments to tell them that they can't go to a hotel, or a beach, because they are reserved for foreigners?

      Would they accept not being allowed to use a cell phone, and depend on a foreigner to buy it for you? Would they accept not being able to travel freely? Are they aware that Cubans need to ask for permission to leave the country? Do free people need that? Do they know that the Cuban government uses sons and daugthers of Doctors working abroad as family hostages to prevent them from defecting? Do they know that doctors and other professionals get punished for 5 years not being able to leave the country if they married a foreigner, or simply wanted to emigrate? Do they know that the government confiscated all the property of anyone who emigrates, without compensation? They keep their house, their car, anything of value. What right do they have to keep property that is not theirs? Isn't that plain theft? Wait a minute, I forgot that the Revolution was born in theft? It was a theft. It was born as an aberration.

      Where's the respect for the individual property? What about the right to family reunification, separating husband from wife? Do they know that with every sports team they send abroad, there are more security of state agents than sportspeople to watch them?

      So, to reply to the first person in this blog. why Cubans are willing to give up their lives? Simple, because those Cubans have understood life is meaningless without FREEDOM.

      50 years is long enough suffering for a people that never deserved it. We never harmed anybody in this world.

      FREEDOM. That's the only word that should be discussed in Congress. Not business.


      Obama, take note of this, and act accordingly.

    7. Andy Hardwick Housto says:

      Americans are free to travel to China, Korea and Vietnam. Why are things different with Cuba? Do Americans know the history of American domination of the Cuban economy (Platt Ammendment, sugar, telephone, banks etc)prior to the revolution? Right now there is no American influence there. Let Americans go, have contact with the Cuban people. Let's have cultural interchanges, scientific exchanges and visits by artists, intellectuals and musicians. 50 years of isolation have done nothing to change Cuba. Castro just uses that as an excuse for whipping up nationalism. Let's try something different. if it doesn't work, then we can change it. The real change in Cuba will come from within. Cubans want contact with Americans whom they admire in spite of official rhetoric. All the debate on Cuba has focused on the exile community. Has anyone checked what dissidents IN Cuba say about the embargo, exchanges and travel? They would be surprised. I look forward to traveling to Cuba and acquainting my family with their relatives in Cuba in the not to distant future.

      One issue overlooked in all this is why does the Cuban government charge almost $800 for a two year Cuban passport which even Cubans who become American citizens must obtain. Why does the Castro government then require these same Cubans to obtain a visa as though they were foreigners?

    8. missionaccomplished says:

      I am Cuban American and I support the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. Let the Miami Castro haters finish rotting off, they are dying off luckily and finally the US will be able to establish normal relations with our neighboring country and put differences aside. The Miami anti-Cuba worms have failed miserably for 50 years.

    9. Barb -mn says:

      This is ridiculous. What gives them any entitlement to freely travel back and forth on our dollar? This is what I do not understand about immigrants? Do they want freedom? Or do they just want to live off of everyone else? Why is so little to nothing expected of today's immigrants? I'd like to know what percentage of LEGAL immigrants are living free and independently from the government?

    10. Graham Adams, UK says:

      You miss the point completely with this.

      The legitimacy of the current regime depends on Cuba being a special country in the eyes of its current political leadership. It does not depend on providing economic success like Vietnam or China or on democratic representation of the people.

      Therefore the more that Cuba is treated by a normal country by the US the more that the leadership of the country will have to seek another source of legitimacy other than protecting the country from an aggressive US foreign policy.

      I think most people who have visited Cuba would agree that the current leadership has had its day but isolation and hysterical posturing by the hard line anti communists / the Miami contingent really does nothing other than further secure the current regime.

      The reality is that is the travel ban and other restrictions were lifted this would increase the expectations of the Cuban people in terms of material development and other political freedoms. These would always increase faster than they could be met by the leadership.

      The Cuban leadership is very capable of demanding austerity and further sacrifice from the Cuban people in the name of defending the gains of the revolution. It would be much less good at justifying its economic failure and political restrictions without the hostility from the US.

    11. Neil Blonstein, New says:

      The American lie/capitalism is full of Madoffs robbing the people of billions. No I'm not a die-hard communist. Wake up America, how many power hungry lies will you fall for. Western Europe/Scandinavia is a clear third alternative. Families are important. Children are important and empowered. Women are empowered by law. Do it.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.