The right of Americans to travel to Cuba is a democratically affirmed one that is constitutionally supported and has been congressionally mandated on the basis of a solid bipartisan majority vote.(1)
There is no reason why Americans must be deprived of the democratically demanded and congressionally affirmed freedom to visit health and eco tourism complexes in Cuba that more than 2 million travelers from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand enjoy annually. It is vital that we enjoy the freedom that o thers enjoy globally to visit eco and health tourism centers in Cuba, to engage in academic exchange programs, to sent medical missions freely, and to remove restrictions to Cuban-American family visits.
There is no reason that in order to satisfy a small sector of extremists, “we the people” cannot after 43 years (2) prevail in having our congressionally supported and validated will respected and thereby become free to travel to Cuba to also engage in studying other aspects of that nation, such as its culture, its model educational and health services distribution system (one that gives it one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (3)
) and engage constructively in people-to-people communications that can only enhance the mutual improvement in the understanding of each other’s similarities and differences in perspectives.
The year 2005 is crucial, since for the first time we are extremely close to going beyond a solid bipartisan majority in congress in our legitimate democratic freedom affirming demand by reaching a veto-proof majority. (4)
Regardless as to whether you decide to exercise your right to travel to Cuba, taking the principled stand in support of that freedom in a democratic society such as ours is a commendable act of civic responsibility.
To insure that this time our congressionally expressed affirmation of our freedom to travel will be respected you can do your part right now by visibly displaying the bumper sticker depicted above. The democratic clamor embodied by the bumper sticker shown on our vehicles from coast to coast will speak louder than words and it will also help in informatively spreading the word about the realities of this counter-productive cold-war era relic travel ban.
Additionally of course, contacting our Representatives and Senators to express your support of the democratic freedom to travel to Cuba is very important.
(1) In 2003, for the first time in history of the Cuban embargo, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have voted by large margins (59 to 38 in the Senate and 227 to 188 in the House) to end the ban on U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba. The House leadership in previous efforts had been able to use conference committee maneuvers to bottle up the congressional vote thereby thwarting the mandate of the American people as registered by the House votes.
Unfortunately, President Bush has also threatened to use his veto power to crush the will the American people has registered by the Congressional vote in order to satisfy a small minority of south Florida Cuban Americans and their extremist supporters in Congress. Americans now face on average fines of $ 7,500.00 issued by the Treasury Department for traveling to Cuba.
With near veto-proof majorities in both chambers, pro constructive engagement and freedom to travel forces eagerly awaited a public debate and consequent passage of the bill that would have ended the enforcement of the travel ban, particularly as both the Senate and the House bills had identical language thereby obviating the need for the House-Senate conference committees to reconcile anything.
As it turned out though, the bill was attached to the Postal-Treasury appropriations bill and to please the extremist hardliners in south Florida and their congressional backers, aides to now indicted Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX) and Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) struck the Cuba language from the bill before the conferees even had a chance to meet!
See Edward Asner’s reports – The Disarm Education Fund, 113 University Place, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10003 , November 10, 2003; See New York Times, Senate Approves Curbs on Cuba Travel, October 24, 2003; See Center for International Policy – Report to Supporters 2003-2004, Freedom to Travel to Cuba , page 2
For a detailed discussion of this issue see Congressional Research Service Report RL311139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Legislative Initiatives in the 107th Congress, by Mark P. Sullivan – updated March 27, 2002. Available under “Long Reports” at http://www.house.gov/markgreen/crs.htm
(3) According to Pan American Health Organization data, Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and according to the C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of the 41 countries that have lower infant mortality rates than the U.S.
(4) See Center for International Policy, Report to Supporters, Winter 2004-2005, p.3; Cuba: Strengthening Our Bipartisan Base;
Additionally noteworthy sources of information are:
The Impact on the U.S. Economy of Lifting Restrictions on Travel to Cuba; The Brattle Group Economic Environmental & Management Counsel 1133 20th Street, NW, St. 800, Washington, DC 20036
Freedom to Travel to Cuba : Reaching Critical Mass in Congress, by Anya Landau and Sarah Stephens Center for International Policy Report September 2003