[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Cuba Travel Ban Struck Down

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cuba Travel Ban Struck Down

Lisandro Perez, FIU professor, frequent visitor to Cuba and someone who's been, well, hesitant to criticize the castro regime, had this to say regarding the striking down of Florida's travel ban to Cuba:
''Increasingly what has happened is that this has become an agenda for some state legislators from the Miami area who want to stake their political careers on appearing to be tough on Cuba from Tallahassee,'' Perez said. ``This was an insult by David Rivera.''
This Herald article describes the specifics on the decision yesterday to strike down the law on the grounds of unconstitutionality. For the record, David Rivera's stated arguments for supporting the ban never totally convinced me. His spirit and heart are in the right place, and any freedom-loving person can understand why supporting travel to Cuba only hurts that cause. However, Rivera's mistake was to cloak the law under the guise of "protecting consumers". He should have just called it what it is, a principled stance against a murderous and tyrannical regime. Using "consumer protection" to pussy-foot around the issue and to get the law passed initially hurt him in the long run.

As critical as I am of Rivera here, it doesn't compare to my feelings for those such as Lisandro Perez who would largely benefit, economically AND ideologically, from the strike-down of the ban. The quote at the top exemplifies the moral abyss that people such as Perez love to revel in.

Of course, FIU stands firmly behind their guy:
''It was a mean-spirited bill,'' said FIU Faculty Senate Chairman Tom Breslin. ``It was made to turn back the clock. I'm glad it's gone for the sake of academic freedom." He adds: ''I think this law was a slap to Cubans in South Florida. More and more, there has been a failure by our state representatives to bring home the bacon from Tallahassee. This sort of grandstanding and demagoguery is a very ineffective use of political power.''
Rivera's comeback statement, although misguided in its stated target, perfectly captures the lack of principles and morals that Lisandro Perez displays on a regular basis in Miami:
''It's unfortunate that some believe that protecting taxpayer money from being used to subsidize travel to terrorist nations is demagoguery,'' Rivera said.

6 Comments:

Blogger C.L.J. said...

During the Cold War, my great-uncle traveled to the Soviet Union on a fact-finding tour. Not for any government agency, but for the Methodist Church; he was a retired farmer. He wanted to go behind the Iron Curtain to meet Soviet citizens, and find out how the lived.

He took along trinkets to hand out; the travel agents told him that Soviets prized all things American. And that tipping or handing out money was strictly forbidden. Of course, he couldn't hand out anything of real value or significance, but eventually he found something innocuous enough that the KGB let him bring them in and pass them out: little Princess Phone keychains. Ma Bell used them to promote its new line of telephones in the 60's. They served as a color sampler. Nothing earth shattering, but something uniquely American. The Soviets liked them a lot, and asked questions about the phones, and who could have them; and were amazed at the colors available in both the keychains and the actual phones.

And think of what that really represented; in the Soviet Union, you probably didn't have a phone, and if you did, they were all the same design.

The key chains were not just something for your keys; they represented a freedom of choice, and accessibility to luxury items undreamed of in the USSR.

My point is that by allowing US citizens to travel to a Communist dictatorship, those living under tyranny got to see that those living in Freedom are hale and healthy and often affluent. The key chains weren't the "corrupting influence", it was my uncle's story.

You see, my great-uncle really was a farmer, but that's not how he made his fortune. The NJ Turnpike cut across his farm, and rather than install an underpass so he could access half his farm, the state reimbursed him for the lost income, on top of purchasing the actual land used for the highway. He sold off the orchards to developers, invested the rest, and retired.

Compare that to the Soviet Union, where they would simply tell you you no longer had this farm. You'd simply be sent somewhere else to eke out a living.

It wasn't our military strength or moral superiority that won the Cold War, it was increasing exposure to Western culture, it was MTV.

Our current stance on Cuba hasn't weakened the resolve of the Castro regime; nor has it inspired another revolution. It's the opposite; we actively prevent the Cuban people from coming into contact with Americans, we prevent critical exposure to our casual ideas of freedom. And the current adminstration took it a step further, preventing their own relatives from coming back to show them that America truly IS a land of opportunity.

You don't defeat a dictator by direct means; you do it by undermining his authority and credibility. And the best way to do that is to expose the Cuban population to American tourists.

For forty years, we've had the embargo in place; and for forty years, the Cuban tyrants have remained secure. I call that a failed policy.

I am continually appalled that anyone still thinks the failed embargo has any effect beyond giving the Castro regime something to use as a crutch: "We would be successful if the Americans did not interfere with us!"

It's time for the embargo, in all its varied and equally ineffective forms, to be dissolved, so that the Castro regime can fail on its own merits.

12:35 PM, August 31, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

It wasn't our military strength or moral superiority that won the Cold War, it was increasing exposure to Western culture, it was MTV.

Respectfully but firmly disagree. We were morally superior to the Soviet Union, in every way imaginable. Reagan succeeded by confronting evil and calling it what it is, and back then enough people understood that and joined the cause. Democracy and fairness wins every time.

Nowadays, when the castro regime is called "evil and murderous", you get other people responding how bad the United States is for putting "unfair" pressure on a poor little island and its people.

You may not be aware of this, but in Cuba you can pretty much buy anything, so long as you have the DOLLARS to pay for it. In addition, many Cubans are exposed to tourists from democratic countries from all over the world, touting their wares for all to see. If your analogy about phones in the Soviet Union could be applied to Cuba, the castro regime would have collapsed long ago.

As I've mentioned here many times, one can make a convincing case against restriciting travel by Cuban-Americans to visit relatives, but only for humanitarian reasons. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that increased family contact will automatically lead to the collapse of the regime. It's only in the recent past that the current restrictions have been in place, compared to the almost 50 years of existence of the castro regime.

Miami radio stations, with all its "propaganda" against the castro regime, can be easily heard in Havana and other areas along the north coast. Think about that.

I am continually appalled that anyone still thinks the failed embargo has any effect beyond giving the Castro regime something to use as a crutch: "We would be successful if the Americans did not interfere with us!"

What's appalling to me, and should be to everyone, is that the United States is the only country that seems to understand that you don't deal with a regime that stands for oppression and lack of basic human rights. Doing so only lends credibility to a bunch of murderous thugs (no exaggeration). Meanwhile, other so-called democratic western countries do business and send tourists and money to those people, in a supposed "spirit of dialogue and face-to-face contact". Perhaps you can acknowledge that this, much more than the "embargo", has helped to prop the regime.

In the end, it's all bullshit and hyprocrisy to me.

10:41 AM, September 01, 2008  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

We were morally superior to the Soviet Union, in every way imaginable. Reagan succeeded by confronting evil and calling it what it is, and back then enough people understood that and joined the cause. Democracy and fairness wins every time.


"Moral superiority" has never won anything, Robert. Victory can be ascribed to many things; better arms, superior manpower, innovative tactics, and blind luck. But "moral superiority" is meaningless in the real world. Both sides always invoke it, and one side always loses. So much for "moral superiority."

As for "democracy and fairness" "winning everytime," it's a pretty thought. It's just not true.

Nowadays, when the castro regime is called "evil and murderous", you get other people responding how bad the United States is for putting "unfair" pressure on a poor little island and its people.

It's interesting how you assume that I don't acknowledge the nature of the current regime in Cuba, and far more telling that you're willing to put words in my mouth. I, certainly, have never claimed that Fidel or Raul are anything but tyrants and dictators.

If your analogy about phones in the Soviet Union could be applied to Cuba, the castro regime would have collapsed long ago.

As for the rapidity of change in a communist state: it took nearly a century for the Soviet Union to collapse; and they held onto a greater proportion of its population than Cuba. Think of it as a pressure cooker; change can only occur when thre is enough internal pressure to make it happen. Cuba has a relief valve in the US. After all, who has left Cuba? Those most unhappy with the tyranny. Who is left? Those who tolerate it this far.

In other words, it will take LONGER for Cuba to reach critical state even though it is closer to the US, and has more access to US airwaves than the USSR.

What's appalling to me, and should be to everyone, is that the United States is the only country that seems to understand that you don't deal with a regime that stands for oppression and lack of basic human rights.

It's interesting that you see that we (the USA) are the only ones engaging in a behavior, and yet claim that everyone else is aberrant.

other so-called democratic western countries do business and send tourists and money to those people, in a supposed "spirit of dialogue and face-to-face contact". Perhaps you can acknowledge that this, much more than the "embargo", has helped to prop the regime.

As for the embargo, again, interesting how you twist that around to make it sound like I'm saying something I'm not. I didn't say that the embargo was helping shore up the government. And while "other countries" are dealing with Cuba, its economy is still basically a wreck.

The fact is, if we REMOVE the embargo, Cuba's economy will STILL be in the toilet. That's the nature of Socialist Dictatorships; their economies ALWAYS suck.

I stand by what I actually said: The only thing the embargo really accomplishes is to allow the Castro regime to use it as an excuse for its failure to thrive.

As you point out, Cuba is actively engaged in commerce with basically the entire rest of the planet; the embargo is only symbolic, at this point. And that symbol serves the dictatorship's goals better than it serves ours, since our goals have already - by your own admission - been defeated.

But hey, don't let FACTS or REALITY get in your way. The last forty years of embargo have completely failed to bring us even one step closer to a free Cuba, but at least they give you something to be brag about. That's forty years of tax dollars you successfully lobbied for!

1:37 PM, September 01, 2008  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

CIJ, you should read "The COld War" by John Gaddis and perhaps you'll learn some correct history on why the curtain fell

It was a combination of Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Polish Solidarity Movement, and Gorbachev.

10:41 AM, September 23, 2008  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:30 PM, September 23, 2008  
Blogger Tatny said...

"As for the rapidity of change in a communist state: it took nearly a century for the Soviet Union to collapse; and they held onto a greater proportion of its population than Cuba. Think of it as a pressure cooker; change can only occur when thre is enough internal pressure to make it happen. Cuba has a relief valve in the US. After all, who has left Cuba? Those most unhappy with the tyranny. Who is left? Those who tolerate it this far."

CLJ, as a Cuban exile myself and a student of Soviet history, I must wholeheartedly disagree with your comment.

Those in Cuba that leave do so because they get the opportunity to do so. Those that don't, do so because they fear for their lives at prospective failure.

In the Soviet Union it was the same. To effectively leave a country where leaving is illegal you need to be important and find leeway, or else have the guts to cross the ocean.

As for the fall of the Soviet Union, you have gravely misunderstood the concepts of perestroika and glasnost.

2:47 PM, June 18, 2009  

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