Let’s face it, the Cuban Democracy Act, also known as the embargo, hasn’t worked. It’s been 48 years. Isn’t it time we try something else?
The embargo was put into effect to attempt to force the Cuban government toward “democratization and greater respect for human rights”. Sounds great, right? Since the 638 attempts by the CIA to assasinate him (these probably didn’t all take place before the embargo was put into place) didn’t work, surely the US government hoped that the embargo would implore Cubans to overthrow the revolutionary government put into place by Fidel Castro. However, the embargo hasn’t accomplished any of it’s goals. Fidel Castro is technically no longer the president of Cuba, but only because he decided to step-down after a health scare. His brother is supposedly the leader of Cuba but the general consensus is that Fidel is behind most important policy decisions. Whether he is or not, he stepped down, the embargo didn’t force him from power.
Most Americans probably don’t even know that even though you are not allowed to travel to Cuba (The law actually states that you can’t spend money there, but how could you possibly visit without spending money?) the US, embargo and all, is still the fifth largest importer to Cuba. The US simply doesn’t extend credit to Cuba, they must pay in cash. Can anyone say hipocrisy?
So if the embargo hasn’t accomplished anything, except for punishing the average citizen of Cuba (I’m pretty sure Fidel has everything and anything he needs and desires) why is it still in place? Mostly likely, because of fear, but realistically, Cuba is no longer a threat to the US. The cold war has been over for almost 20 years. Cuba was recently placed on the state sponsors of terrorism list. You may not agree with Cuba’s policies, but this is laughable.
As a friend recently said, “Obama has too much other $hit to deal with to worry about lifting the Cuba travel ban.” Ain’t that the truth! But he did mention it more than once while running for office, and I do believe he would like to do it. The problem is that just like most presidents, he had loads of great ideas (in my opinion of course) but once he got swept into the huge machine that is Washington politics, it’s mostly impossible to implement them.
I think allowing US citizens to travel to Cuba would be the best thing President Obama could do for Cuba and Cubans. If he can’t get the embargo lifted, fine, but allowing all US citizens to freely visit Cuba (Cuban Americans and people with special licenses can currently visit. I actually have a friend who was able to go through a university sponsored trip.) would lead to friendships, romances and all kinds of cultural exchanges. What better way to “open” Cuba up?
Cuba is a country of contradictions. The people love Fidel and they hate him. They don’t have high stress jobs where they work overtime, but they don’t receive enough food from their ration book provided by the government and can’t afford “extras” like shampoo and soap unless they have a family member sending money from another country. They get free medical care but the supplies are short or nonexistant and the facilities outdated. I think that if Americans were able to legally visit Cuba, they would realize that the only people being affected by the embargo are average Cubans. The Cuban government blames the embargo for most of their problems, if it were lifted, what excuse would they have then?