Thursday, December 22, 2011

D.C.: Trapped By Unpopular Demand

   One of the common slanders against Cuba heard in our media is the claim that the island is a prison.  "People are trapped."  Although the rules of travel are different then many other countries' rules, it isn't true that Cubans are unable to travel.

   It is being reported and has been speculated for many months, that these restrictions, which are easy targets for propaganda against the island, will be soon eliminated.  When this happens, it will leave those cold hearted extremists with one more argument lost that they use to attempt to justify the embargo.

   Even more interestingly, part of the changes in the Cuban laws may be that it will become easier for people to return to live on the island, virtually eliminating the "permanent" exit that so many Cubans opt for when they choose to leave to make their lives in another country.

   Is the U.S. ready for such a thing?  Officially, the Obama administration has decided to pretend that there have been no signs of change on the island.  I don't think Washington has found a way to wrap its mind around the fact that the changes in Cuba are profound and independent of Washington's 50+ years demands.  But Cuba evolves anyways and Washington will have to watch as Cubans on the island and abroad are welcoming the changes.

   Gone from the list of excuses for maintaining the embargo will be the nonsense about Cuba being "an island prison".  This hasn't been true.  Cubans have traveled from Cuba to various countries and back to Cuba again in spite of the red tape which makes it unnecessarily difficult.  The U.S. will be put on the spot as its own denial of visas are put on display.  I have witnessed with my own eyes people waiting for their fifth and sixth interviews for visas only to be denied again by the U.S. authorities.

   What will be done about the wet foot/ dry foot policy, which entices people to risk their lives for automatic residency?  Will political asylum still be granted to any Cuban who asks for it?  Perhaps only Cubans willing to skip the normal visa process and try to come with neither permission to  enter the U.S. nor an exit permit will be celebrated as political refugees?

   With each step that is being taken by Cuba to improve its society, it is becoming more difficult for the political establishment to twist and turn as it attempts to justify the position of maintaining the embargo/ blockade.


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