Here’s another freedom – freedom of travel. Few Americans list this one when asked what freedom means because we take it for granted.
But there are places Americans can’t go, at least legally. Cuba is one of them. Since Fidel Castro won control of Cuba in the 1960s, the U.S has enforced a strict embargo – no trade, business dealings, travel, sending money to relatives, and so forth. You can’t buy Cuban cigars. If you get them in Canada, you can’t bring them into the U.S.
There have been limited exceptions to the ban. Cuban Americans with immediate family in Cuba could visit, but rarely and only for short durations. They could send money, but only paltry sums. Such measures were meant to bring the Castro government down – obviously, they didn’t have that effect. It appears that they did contribute to the misery on the island.
Obama promised to ease restrictions, and this week administration officials said that he would lift the ban on family travel and remittances. Doing so would fulfill a campaign promise. Obama plans to make the announcement when he attends the Summit of the Americas, held April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Who knows, one day any American may be able to travel freely to and from Cuba, and do business in Cuba.
There are strong feelings on each side. Many think easing restrictions only aids the communist government in Cuba. Other think strict restrictions actually helped the Cuban government by giving Fidel a handy scapegoat.
What do you think?
Do you agree with Obama’s granting of freedom of travel? Will it help or hurt Cuban-American relations?
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