Wednesday, January 26, 2011
President Obama recently announced he planned to ease restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. This will allow religious groups and students to travel to the communist island.
It's a good start, but I don't feel it goes far enough. I want to travel to Cuba, but I'm not a student and I belong to no religious affiliations. Does this mean I can't go?
Obama says he wants to develop contacts through these academic, cultural and religious exchanges. Fine, then open up travel for everyone.
I've never understood the decades-long embargo the U.S. has maintained against Fidel Castro and Cuba since he took power in the late 1950s. I recently read a book titled The Dark side of Camelot, which shed some light into why President Kennedy was so hawkish against Cuba. But I've yet to grasp why the countless other presidents since Kennedy have steadfastly supported the embargo.
Even though Obama said he is planning on easing travel restrictions, the trade embargo is still in effect.
Castro is a communist and he makes no bones about it. He is unapologetic and things of the U.S. government as evil. But why can't I go visit the island if I so choose?
The U.S. fought a bitter and bloody war in Vietnam against the communist north. We eventually pulled out, choosing to let the South Vietnamese do the fighting instead of us. When that happened, it quickly became apparent that the reason U.S. troops were fighting and dying in Vietnam was because the South Vietnamese government was either unable or unwilling to do the fighting. The north quickly crushed the south and Vietnam has been reunited since 1975.
The U.S. quickly put in place trade and travel embargos against the communist country, embargos that were lifted in the mid-1990s. Since then thousands of Americans have visited Vietnam, seeing the sights and dumping untold amounts of U.S. currency into the country.
I don't have a problem with this but why Vietnam and not Cuba? The U.S. lost more than 58,000 men and women in Vietnam, how many did we lose in Cuba? How is Cuba any worse than Vietnam.
Or how about Iran? Why can I travel to Iran and not Cuba? Iran actually held American prisoners for 444 days. Iran is a sponsor of state terrorism. Iran is responsible for fanning the flames of insurgency in Iraq, and IEDs found along the roadsides of Iraq and Afghanistan have origins in Iran. But yet, I can still travel there, but I can't travel to Cuba.
I can go to China. Does anyone doubt that country is controlled by communists? Heck, the summer Olympics were just held there in 2008. But our government doesn't have any travel restrictions to that country. Confusing, huh?
The decades-long embargo against Cuba is petty and needs to be lifted. It's time for Obama to do that. Keeping the embargo any longer just seems childish to me.
Plus, I really want an authentic Cuba Libre. Just saying!
- Corey Russell can be contacted
at 509-837-4500, or email