Recent developments have revealed a change in direction in the Cuban government’s hard-line communist ideology, with former Cuban President Fidel Castro admitting the political system has failed, a half-million government employees getting laid off and the recent freeing of political prisoners by the regime.
Now’s the time for an end to the pointless travel and trade restrictions to the island.
In the 1940s and 1950s, before the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, Tampa was one of several ports of departure to the small Caribbean nation.
Various material goods were shipped from Tampa, creating an economic impact that helped produce jobs and tax revenue. Since the ‘90s, some trade of certain items has been allowed, but nothing compared to previous levels.
Travelers and tourists also left from Tampa’s port, possibly including some first-generation USF students.
Many were able to drive their cars onto a ferry and, within a short time, enjoy the jubilant party-like atmosphere that contemporaries witnessed in the 1955 movie, “Guys and Dolls” or “Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana.” Of course, the ideological differences between capitalism and communism during the Cold War eventually took their toll, but there’s no reason to continue the embargo as Cuba leaves behind its ideological rigidity for a more pragmatic approach.
Many, especially some Cuban-Americans, feel that despite whatever changes take place politically between the U.S. and Cuba, there shouldn’t be an end to the embargo because of the Cuban government’s lack of political freedoms for its people.
However, the U.S engages in trade and allows for travel to nations with far worse human rights’ records.
China quickly locks away political opponents and executes more prisoners per year than the rest of the world combined, according to amnesty international, yet it is America’s most important trading partner.
Saudi Araba, a nation that the U.S. practically bends backwards for, is a monarchy – with a king having the final say – yet U.S. policymakers see no problem with the country’s lack of political freedoms.
It’s not Cubans’ fault that their island doesn’t possess the material goods that would make U.S. leaders look past its socialist government.
With Miami falling out of favor with the Cuban government because of strong resentment by Cuban-Americans there, Tampa is next in line for travel to the island, as repeatedly expressed by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Changes that would allow Americans to travel freely to the island would benefit many Americans, including USF students, who could spend a weekend or even their spring break in an exotic foreign nation only hours away.
The Cold War is over. Cuba and the U.S. have both grown more progressive, and U.S.’s foreign policy should reflect this by allowing Americans the rights that citizens of others nations have to travel to and trade with Cuba.