Feb 28, 2009

S. 428: The Cuba Travel Act

Noam Chomsky has argued that language is a biological faculty; indeed, a human organ. A human being cannot be deprived of linguistic expression and continue to function normally. One could argue similarly about movement although in this case it's intrinsic to all living organisms. Deprive an individual of freedom of movement or of linguistic expression for an extended period and s/he will most likely be damaged. This is precisely what Cubans have been subjected to for a half century. This, citizens of the United States, is a type of genocide.

The US Congress surely knows that Cubans who dare express opposition to the imposed political order are threatened, beaten up, imprisoned, have their family and children threatened and publicly chastised, their homes sometimes surrounded by pro-regime mobs and their jobs taken away in a land where the tyranny is the only one legal employer. Surely some have heard, for example, of how dissident poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela was forced to swallow her poems http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3692/is_199507/ai_n8713749. Some are surely following daily reporting on these events by dissidents. If not they should consider visiting sites such as http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/(Spanish - channeled through a Cuban in Sweden. Surely it's no secret that Cubans are even prohibited from traveling between the island's provinces without the regime's permission and that dissidents who attempt to do so are picked up by state security and frequently beaten up. Is there anyone that does not know that Cubans are not allowed to leave and reenter their own country or that tens of thousands are estimated to have died braving Caribbean waters populated by sharks? Certainly all Congresspersons know that those those Cubans who make it to just feet from US shores are sent back by the US government; just a notch better than what other governments such as the Mexican do, that is, send them back even if they make it to shore. This, Citizens, Representatives and Senators of the United States is appalling, outrageous, barbaric.

Imagine if any US citizen were subjected to this.

US Congresspersons also surely know that Cubans in exile are not necessarily allowed back into their native land. Some are and some are not depending on what best serves the tyranny's interests. For example, many doctors in exile who have been educated in Cuba are punished by not being allowed back to visit their families, even their children. Yet this is their homeland! Two highly successful boxers who escaped while in Brazil were sent back only to be informed upon arrival that their boxing careers were over. One escaped again over a month ago and the other in the past few days, accompanied by 4 others. Both left their families behind. What will happen if they try to return? Will they be allowed in and out again? Of course not. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gU56hJ6VtrMVtDamWClX4pkhq5XQD96I6OFO0 .http://www.cubaencuentro.com/es/deportes/noticias/otros-tres-pugiles-cubanos-llegaron-a-miami-junto-a-rigondeaux-158355

In order for this tragic situation to change the regime must radically change which is rather unlikely given that, as we all know, they contend to be fully justified. Therefore the regime must go and anything that prolongs its existence deeply wounds the Cuban people, inside and in exile, and is to be rejected and condemned, not supported and financed.

Yet there are US citizens who erroneously believe that their right to travel anywhere. including Cuba, is somehow absolute. Could a US citizen legally enter without permission another's private property or a concentration camp as a tourist? Obviously not.

Of course, the illegitimate regime that severely restricts Cubans' language and movement welcomes US citizens' dollars and the US Congress' interest in reconciliation. Why wouldn't they? Cuba reportedly has 47 thousand hotel rooms and the typical Cuba traveler will easily spend $1000+ in hotels alone on a 10 day trip. Add food, entertainment, transportation and the total could add up to $2000+. If 2-4 million US citizens were to be permitted to travel to Cuba, the tyranny would be rewarded with revenues of $2 to $8 billion. Add billions more from investments and the tyranny will have consolidated itself with US, Venezuelan, Spaniard, Canadian, Russian, Chinese and massive support from Latin America (where democracy is still only a camouflage). Even the French now report interest in the new Cuba slave deal.

Would billions in revenues mean freedom of expression and movement for Cubans? Legitimate elections? Of course not. Indeed just recently the regime manifested that China should not allow dissidents to go unpunished. http://www.cubaencuentro.com/es/cuba/noticias/la-habana-pide-a-pekin-que-evite-la-impunidad-de-la-disidencia-china-155823.

Let there be no doubt: What the US' actual values are is also being defined with the Cuba Reconciliation Act and The Freedom to Travel Act. Cuba was a free democratic republic from 1940 up until Batista with an ally's help ended it on March 10, 1952.


First objection and response

Some US citizens may object that governments of other countries don't prohibit their citizens from traveling to Cuba. Indeed they benefit from it through air fares, Cuba investments, etc. These other countries of course are no different than those that benefited from the slave trade.

Second objection and response

A further objection is that flooding Cuba with hundreds of thousands of US tourists will magically bring about cultural and political change. Are those tourists going to publicly demand from the tyranny that it respect all Cubans' freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to associate for political purposes, freedom to leave and reenter their country, without exceptions? If so, why haven't they done so already? Why don't they do so now? The 2 million tourists who have visited Cuba from other countries have done nothing except enrich and empower the tyranny at the expense of Cubans' most elemental rights and dignity. They have changed absolutely nothing for the better. Quite the contrary: the tyranny acts as if vindicated and legitimized by them and promotes it as such.

Third objection and response

Yet another objection is that US citizens are not prohibited from traveling to China. What would US citizens think if the US government were to behave like Cuba's totalitarian tyranny and others, including Cubans, were to finance and defend it with tourists, investments, etc. masked as 'reconciliation' and 'freedom'? Does anyone doubt US citizens would not tolerate it? Why then does any US Citizen expect permission to vacation in China while its leaders step on the rights of Tibetans and other dissidents? Of course they should not be allowed and certainly no less is applicable to Cuba.

Fourth objection and response

Still another objection is that the embargo has not worked in Cuba's case. The US embargo by itself is not sufficient; that much is clear. Other nations should also be part of it to help the tyranny collapse. Given that they are not, that they prefer to benefit from the violation of Cubans' rights, the struggle is exceedingly difficult and Cubans need all the friends they can get, just like the US needed the French in its war of independence from Britain. Political organization is required yet Cuba's exile community is infiltrated by the tyranny's defenders in exile. One just has to visit Cuban Internet forums to see how difficult it is to figure out who is who. The tyranny and its friends thrive by seeding mistrust between Cubans. Those who oppose the tyranny can only recognize each other when they demand (1) the immediate release of all political prisoners, (2) the full respect of all Cubans' human rights and (3) legitimate multi-party elections. The same applies to how Cubans see the US and other countries. Anything that could slow down or impede achieving these objectives means more support for the tyranny by financing it, as these bills before you will do.

More on this topic to come.

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RESUMEN EN ESPAÑOL - La ley que acaba de ser aprobada por la Cámara de Representantes y ahora pasa al Senado permite visitas familiares, etc., pero esta sola encubre otra(s) leyes mucho mas críticas que ya están siendo consideradas en la Camara y en el Senado de los EE.UU.

En la Cámara se conoce (a veces) como el Cuba Reconciliation Act - H.R. 188 (y también como H.R. 874). En el Senado se conoce como The Cuba Travel Act (S. 428). Recomiendo a los cubanos en los Estados Unidos que urgentemente escriban a los representantes y senadores del estado en donde viven para que voten en contra, y que hagan lo posible por motivar y ayudar a otros a hacer lo mismo.

Estas leyes permitirían, entre otras cosas, que todo estadounidense pueda viajar a Cuba, no solo los de decendencia cubana. Terminarían con el embargo y Estados Unidos se reconciliaría con la tiranía.

Lean la del Senado aquí (S.428): http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-428 y la de la Cámara de Representantes H.R. 188 aquí: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-188 .

Ojo, no se confundan, pues a estas leyes les cambian los nombres y números constantemente. Un buen sitio para seguirlas es aquí: http://www.opencongress.org/issue/alphabetical/C -- Busquen 'Cuba' y aparecerán.

Por el momento he decidido que es más importante escribir en Inglés para intentar informar, desde el exilio, a los que tomarán las decisiones y a los que votatarían en un futuro, o no, por ellos.