While recently the country has been entrenched in the mosque debate, talk of easing restrictions on Cuba has somewhat flown by the national radar. Still, it’s an idea worth discussing seriously, as it has much more far-reaching implications for citizens of both countries than does talk of the potential mosque.
A New York Daily News article reported that the Obama administration has made plans to ease travel restrictions on the Communist state. Under the Bush administration, travel restrictions to Cuba were tightened successively, and the current administration only plans to return back to Clinton-era travel guidelines, which enabled religious, humanitarian, and academic groups to visit the country much more freely than current rules allow.
Although as yet it’s a political long-shot, the idea of completely lifting the embargo on Cuba is perfectly sensible on various fronts. For one, Americans really want to visit Cuba. According to an Orbitz poll conducted last year, 67% of those surveyed said they favor all Americans having permission to travel to Cuba, and 72% of respondents agreed that allowing free travel would positively impact the lives of the Cuban people.
The whole idea behind the embargo in the first place is to ostensibly punish the Castro regime such that it is forced to move to a more democratic system of governing. Interestingly enough, this Cold War era goal is not anywhere near to coming to fruition. If anything, the embargo has only further isolated Cuba from the outside world. How can a democracy proliferate when the free flow of information is being squelched?
Moreover, it isn’t simply information that Cubans are being denied through the embargo; it’s also food and much-needed medical supplies. General health in Cuba is poor; the rationing system leaves many malnourished, especially men since women and children are given first priority.
Even if we discount humanitarian goals as being too idealistic, lifting the embargo on Cuba would be in everyone’s best interests. Cuba is a resource-rich country, and by allowing free trade with our Caribbean neighbor, the United States stands to benefit substantially.
While the embargo may have made more sense decades ago, now it is simply incomprehensible. There is no denying that the embargo remains a sensitive topic, considering the Cuban-American vote in Florida is a key group to which politicians must often kowtow and appease. In any event, let’s stop fighting fire with fire. In order to be consistent with our country’s democratic, free-market ideals, it’s time that the Obama administration considers further easing sanctions. The recent announcement to ease travel restrictions is a heartening first step in the right direction.
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who writes for BestCollegesOnline.com. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.