Well, it’s official. The US travel ban to Cuba has been reinstated, and with full enforcement of the embargo the White House now stands firmly in a position of non-assistance to the Cuban government. Their reasoning seems to be fueled by the idea that damaging the Cuban government and its economic stability will somehow help the Cuban people more directly, but I’m unable to see how pulling money away from the country will be an effective measure in giving them individual financial support. Perhaps it’s my understanding of the situation, but something about all of this doesn’t make sense to me.
It sounds like the same tired measures are in place of repealing Obama-era legislation in all its forms, and with all of the ‘communist regime’/’Castro regime’ rhetoric flying around these declarations feel like they’re coming from the same place as statements like ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’. But regardless of the reasons these actions are being taken by the US government, I still have to ask – is any of this actually going to help the Cuban people? Or the country as a whole?
Look, I’m not Cuban. I don’t have personal experience living under the government in Cuba, and my knowledge of the country’s history is a little shaky. But when I was wandering around Havana, Viñales, and everywhere in between, I met Cubans who were extremely excited to meet a traveler from the USA. And I was excited to meet them as well! To be able to be able to speak with them directly and discuss their lives and the things we have in common (like baseball!) was such an eye-opening experience for me, and I can’t imagine a world where traveling to Cuba to gain the perspective of its people and share my own would ever be a bad thing.
This opportunity to share our cultures was greatly strengthened when the Obama administration relaxed USA travel restrictions and allowed for travelers to visit Cuba under the category of ‘people to people’ interactions. It opened the doors for a lot more people to visit the country, which (in theory) increased the amount of individual contact between Cubans and visiting travelers. Now that the Trump administration has reinstated the old restrictions on travel, and an unwanted boundary between the American and Cuban peoples has only been built up again. The sharing of ideas can only suffer from measures like this, and it seems like a step backward to me.
I understand and respect the goals of the Trump administration in this moment, and I think it’s worth pushing for the political and economic freedoms that the Cuban government doesn’t currently provide to it’s people. It just seems to me that the methods being used to accomplish those goals act against the better interests of the Cuban people whose social and economic development the White House claims to support. Given the heavy-handed damage from these measures to Cuba’s government and its economy, can the people of Cuba really benefit from the decisions made today?
And will I ever get to go back to Cuba?
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