Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Normalize Relations With Cuba

When Pres. Obama took office, he eased family travel restrictions to Cuba (currently there are no limits on the number of trips that may be taken) and encouraged travel opportunities for religious, cultural, and education groups.  Now, two Florida Republican congressmen (David Rivera and Mario Diaz-Balart) are seeking to overturn these limited reforms and turn the clock back to Bush-era restrictions:  travel once every three years, and a $1200 cap on annual remittances.  The Republican-controlled Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen--a fellow conservative Cuban-American--has recently approved just such a bill.
It would appear Rivera, Diaz-Balart, and Ros-Lehtinen have difficulties with the concept of time.  Specifically, they have difficulty acknowledging the year we're living in.  It's 2011 folks, and even if one were to accept their claims against the Castro regime (without taking into consideration the complete & un-edited historical backdrop leading to Batista's overthrow in 1959), it's quite obvious to everyone that the clock is ticking down on Fidel and Raul.  Change is coming, and the question is have we closed and locked the doors on our own opportunities to participate in that change?  Every major country already 'recognizes' and trades with Cuba:  trade with Venezuela, China, Canada, and Spain alone tops $7 billion.
The Cuban-American community itself is no longer unanimous in its support of the ultra-conservative, confrontational approach advocated by these three Representatives.  Diaz-Balart wouldn't know this, of course, since he's refused to meet with or receive petitions signed by more than 1500 Cuban-Americans in his district who oppose this bill.  His rationale for his actions:  he won't meet w/anyone who does business with totalitarian regimes.  I have a sneaking suspicion he would have done business with Pinochet or Franco in a heartbeat!
It's 2011, and it's time for the U.S. embargo to end and the current travel guidelines to be liberalized.  Let's show the courage to do what's right.

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