The Obama Administration is rolling back some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba, making it easier for schools, churches and cultural groups to visit the island. While those wanting to travel to Cuba will still have to obtain permission from the Treasury Department in order to legally spend money in Cuba, this is a step in the right direction. I trust this will set the stage for a further loosening of the travel ban, allowing any American to visit Cuba for whatever reason they choose.
Not surprisingly, some members of Congress are up in arms. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) stated, "These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights and they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them. These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime."
When I worked on Capitol Hill I had the chance to interact with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen on Cuban issues. She’s actually one of my favorite members of Congress, but in this case I think she’s just pandering to the Cuban community in Miami. Fundamentally, I think it constitutionally suspect for the federal government to restrict where a citizen can spend money outside U.S. borders, but I also find it curious why the Embargo policy continues to be vociferously defended.
The Castro brothers are still in power, Cubans remain impoverished and without the political rights U.S. citizens take for granted, and yet 40 years later the Embargo just need a little more time to work? Sorry, I don’t think so. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The travel ban and Embargo itself has failed. It’s time to repeal it.
At least we’re one step closer now to being able to visit Havana without worrying about a $10,000 fine from the Treasury Department…