Not the Island Paradise

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

by Daniel Nardini

I personally wish U.S. President Donald Trump did not try to restrict travel to Cuba for Americans. What the new travel restrictions will mean for many Americans is that they can no longer use the people-to-people category to go to Cuba. It is possible for Americans to go to Cuba in 12 categories established by former U.S. President Barack Obama to see the island. These categories include religious activities, journalist activities, business with private companies not controlled by the Cuban government, humanitarian activities, education purposes, family visits, support for the Cuban people, research, professional work and research, authorized export activities, official U.S. government business, and scientific and information materials gathering. Hopefully these restrictions will be reversed and that more Americans will be allowed to go to Cuba.

There are two dangers I see on trying to restrict travel to Cuba. First, more Americans will try to go around the restrictions by traveling to Cuba via Canada or Mexico or other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America because everybody recognizes Cuba these days. But the bigger problem is that as Cuba again becomes “forbidden fruit” for so many Americans, many Americans will start to write glowingly about Cuba and possibly the Cuban government. There will be tales about Cuba being some “lost 1950’s paradise untouched by American commercialism.” This is the image that has been coming out since diplomatic relations were reestablished between the United States and Cuba. But we should make no mistake that Cuba is a poor Third World country governed by a powerful Communist Party that totally restricts its citizens in every way from freedom of speech and religion to the fact that Cubans even now cannot for the most part leave their island nation. Besides, the Cuban government can easily offset any new American restrictions with a whole range of investments from other countries like China (now becoming the largest investor in the Americas). The only way this might be changed is if we as a country and a nation and a government try to engage Cuba more, not less. But we must first get it out of our minds that Cuba is anything less than a Third World Communist-ruled nation where so many of its people are trying to flee even now.

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