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  • Same Cuba, Same Policies: Why It Is Not Time To Lift The Travel Ban

    The U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing last week on lifting the ban on travel to Cuba, revealing the high discrepancy among congressional members over whether or not restricting Americans from traveling to Cuba will ultimately influence democratic change and enhance human rights under the Castro regime.

    Many representatives argued that this policy has failed at influencing democracy within the communist state and has prevented Americans from traveling where they please. Others claimed that by allowing Americans to travel to Cuba, to speak and have frequent contact between citizens will lead to greater openness and, in due course, democracy. These arguments, however, were refuted by the fact that the Castro regime persistently violates the fundamental rights of the Cuban people. Not to mention, most of the revenue made through tourism in Cuba ends up in the hands of the Cuban government.

    Undoubtedly, human rights under the Castro regime are extensively undermined and restricted. The recent report published by Human Rights Watch, “New Castro, Same Cuba,” describes in detail the oppressive techniques used by the Castro regime against Cuban citizens, such as political imprisonment for “dangerous,” or antisocialist, behavior, humiliating “acts of repudiation,” beatings and the excessive use of force, to name a few. If pressure from other countries is not insistently put on the Cuban government, human rights violations will continue to weaken and suppress the Cuban community.

    Some argue that ultimately the profits made through an increase of tourism brought in by lifting the ban will trickle down to the underground economy. The tourism industry in Cuba, however, is a large component of the country’s state-controlled economy. Therefore, the revenue made through tourism supports the repressive behavior of the Castro regime. According to the U.S. State Department, any American tourist that comes in to contact with a Cuban citizen is subject to clandestine investigation by the General Directorate for State Security (DGSE) of Cuba. Additionally, those Cubans that interact with American tourists will more than likely be victimized by Cuban security elements.

    On the whole, opening up tourism to Cuba for the American people will only serve the domineering and tyrannical actions of the Castro regime. In order for human rights and democracy in Cuba to progress, Cuban policy must change—not American policy.

    Kristen Grimsland currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Same Cuba, Same Policies: Why It Is Not Time To Lift The Travel Ban

    1. Anon, USA says:

      america is such a fascist double standard country.

      china which has thousands of REAL political prisons and a tyranny which is 20 times worse than cuba's and then we see obama BOWING to chinese president hu jintao.

      i wonder what would happen if fascist obama went to cuba and bowed to fidel…. ahahaha

      most of this anti-cuba propaganda is in part because of the miami mafia being funded by congress. once that funding of millions of TAXPAYER dollar stop then all this anti-cuba propaganda will stop.

    2. Milton Sanchez-Parod says:

      Kristin Grimsland's arguments fall short and sound hollow.

      Trying to force "democracy" in Cuba through restrictions, embargoes, the paying of dissidents, the 40 plus millions/year of dollars of US taxpayers misspent money on regime change in Cuba are antidemocratic actions themselves.

      Kristin argues for restricting American's freedom of movements(government control of our activities), something Reagan deplored when the Soviets used

      against their people.

      Building walls, restricting trade, prohibiting US business to participate in free markets, limiting cultural, educational and scientific exchanges, pressuring the Cuban people to rebel against their government by restricting goods, paying dissidents, financing radio and TV US government stations, limiting other countries trade with Cuba by extraterritorial laws, and standing in the way of US public opinion including those of the young Cuban Americans is a policy more akin to those implemented and advocated by a police state than an American Democracy.

      I think those advocates of trade and travel restrictions are actually afraid of what Americans will find and learn for temselves when visiting and trading with Cuba. Perhaps is why they do not want Americans to visit Cuba.

    3. Lazaro Fuentes says:

      It is interesting to me that there are various issues at the core of the argument for lifting the ban on travel to Cuba for Americans that are also core to conservative principles, yet the Heritage Foundation would go against their very nature and not support them. [correction]

      First and foremost is that the Federal Government lacks constitutional authority to restrict the travel of Americans to any place. (Isn’t the Heritage Foundation a bastion of “stay out of my business.”)

      Further, it is also unconstitutional to apply laws with two standards. Cuban Americans can travel, but others can not? What is that? One law for one people… another law for the other? How is that for government intrusion and backwardness?

      Third, the crux of the “young leader’s” argument, is that we should restrict travel for the sake of denying the Cuban regime tourist dollars. They are getting those dollars already. When what the people really want is to see 2 to 4 million free thinking Americans walking around and interacting with Cubans… something that is inevitable if the US were to open and that would go a long way towards erasing the myths the Cuban Government has created regarding our being “the Enemy.”

      It makes you wonder what it is that would motivate the Heritage Foundation to take positions that run completely counter to their principles. I do not agree with everything in the previous comment, but there is something to be said about how a bastion of conservative thinking, The Heritage Foundation, could find justification in our doing business with Chinese and Vietnamese Communists (btw, we lost 67,000 people in a war with the Vietnamese Communists) and could also look over the government’s unconstitutional restrictions of US Citizen’s right to travel, but they can’t get past Cuba.

      Seems a little fishy, don’t you think? Maybe its because it has nothing to do with human rights and more to do with a power base and the money behind the Cuba issue. There is too much money and too much power to lose if the policy actually changes. And don’t get me going about what happens if a certain Lobby loses its clout… like maybe having to answer for destroying the water table in the Everglades… a $20 Billion clean up that has been passed onto the American people that we do not hear much about. But then again, wouldn’t the Heritage Foundation have a problem with that “bailout”?

      I think that it is better [financially] for the Heritage boys and girls if things stay just as they are… who cares about Cuba anyhow, right?

      Well I do. I also care about our Constitution. Get it right folks… pun intended.

    4. Knute Hendrickson says:

      The argument for Cuba is not an easy one. In a perfect world, we would all love open access to Cuba, but let's not be naive. Freedom is a two-way street. This weeks Washington Times article, by Everett Briggs, offered a supporting echo of Ms. Grimsland's call to keep the restrictions in place, an echo that should reverberate until this regime learns to take responsibility for its failures and inhumane actions and injustice.

      Despite false accusations from Cuba, the US continues to reach out to Cuba to try and improve relations. Most recently, Cuba rejected president Obama's request to release political prisoners upon his action to lift restrictions for family visits. Their decision not to release the prisoners solidifies the fact that they are not ready for a relationship with the US. In addition, it proves that they are a threat to anyone who may wish to travel and speak in the country.

      Vacationers beware: Visiting Cuba will not spread democracy. In fact it may prolong then denial of its existence. Free people have been traveling to Cuba for years, including our neighbors to the North. The idea that the exposure to outside peoples will inspire widespread democratic reform is idealist wishful thinking. As Grimsland and Briggs both state, the majority of the money spent by foreigners in Cuba is sunk right back into the pockets of Castro’s regime, furthering their repressive methods of monetary distribution.

      In short, we must continue not to support the dictatorial Cuban regime. Again, freedom is a two-way street. We cannot expect to receive freedom simply by being a free nation. We must do what is in the best interest of both our people and for the world. As MLK Jr. stated, "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I agree with Ms. Grimsland's case to keep the current travel restictions in place.

      Let's be honest, if you really wish to travel to Cuba as a US Citizen, you can go via Mexico. In fact I encourage you to go to Cuba and to speak out on behalf of democracy. I cannot promise, however, that you will be released from prison. Nonetheless, Cuba remains a beautiful country with beautiful people. It's culture is rich and its food unique. The ball for political progress remains in their court.

    5. john stewert says:

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