Last month, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) made the following statement in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; [edited]
Americans have the right to travel to Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, which seeks a nuclear weapons capability in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We can go to North Korea, which threatens to destabilize East Asia with its nuclear weapons program. And even during the darkest days of the Cold War, our citizens could visit the Soviet Union. Yet the vast majority of Americans are still prohibited by law from travelling to Cuba. It is the only country in the world where our people are not allowed to go.
But let’s face it. By any objective measure, the nearly fifty-year-old travel ban simply hasn’t worked. The travel ban has prevented contact between Cubans and ordinary Americans, who serve as ambassadors for the democratic values we hold dear. Such contact would help break Havana’s chokehold on information about the outside world. At the end of the day, the importance of depriving the Castro regime of some additional financial resources is far outweighed by our interest in accelerating the spread of democratic ideas and supporting the development of a healthy civil society in Cuba.
It would seem that the stone of economic sanctions that has been gathering moss for half a century may be starting to budge. Could we see el bloqueo lifted within the next year on its 50th anniversary?
This week’s Vagabonding column highlights some of the recent developments regarding Cuban relations with the United States. Weigh in on what you think about lifting sanctions and being able to travel to the land of salsa, cigars, and ropa vieja.