Despite Bush’s recent statement to stem the number of Americans that illegally travel to Cuba, the House and Senate have passed a bill that will loosen the outdated laws that restrict Americans from traveling to the island nation.
Congress’ surprisingly decisive 59-38 vote, in favor of loosening the Cold-War -inspired ban on travel to Cuba is in keeping with the country’s as well as the world’s evolving view of the economic restrictions against the island.
Although the economic embargo against Cuba is widely perceived as a relic of the Cold War, there is one major pocket located in southern Florida that strongly supports all of the anti-Castro legislation. The Cuban-American lobby represents a strong voting block and has vehemently opposed any legislation they perceive as weakening the United States’ stance against Cuba.
With the Florida vote being tight and controversial in the last presidential election, many congressmen, including several Republicans, have expressed a view that Bush has been attempting to secure the large Cuban-American vote by dancing to their tune. In a speech made at the White House Rose Garden a few weeks ago, Bush emphasized his anti-Castro stance and said, “Illegal tourism perpetuates the misery of the Cuban people.” Bush has already threatened to veto this most recent legislation.
By playing to the anti-Castro Cuban American lobby, Bush is doing more to support Castro’s regime than to destroy it. By continuing the United States’ hostility toward Cuba, the president is further fueling anti-American sentiment in Cuba and, in the eyes of the world community, pitting Cuba as the victim of the all-powerful United States.
Bush’s reluctance to let Americans exercise their freedom by traveling abroad may limit the influx of dollars into the Cuban economy, but it also restricts the importation of American’s ideas of freedom and democracy into the communist country.
By keeping these ideals from taking root in Cuba, Bush will be, in effect, strengthening the Castro regime’s ideological hold on the country. That makes the chances of Castro maintaining a firm hold on power all the more likely.
Bush needs to rethink his policies against Cuba to serve the interests of the nation, not just a voting block in Miami.