President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Cuba is quickly approaching. This month, Obama will be the first U.S. president to set foot on Cuban soil since President Calvin Coolidge 88 years ago.
Obama made the announcement Feb. 18 on his Twitter account.
“Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.”
Though his intent may be positive, taking such a large step toward peaceful relations with a country led by a Communist dictatorship probably isn’t the direction the U.S. should take.
Among other reason not to lift the embargo is the simple fact that Cuba has not met the requirements originally specified by President John F. Kennedy to lift it, according to cuba-embargo.procon.org.
Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have been unfortunate, however it may be in the U.S.’ best interest to consider continuing its embargo when Cuba’s government functions as inhumanely as it does.
The first step to recovering Cuban-American relations should be asking Cuba to meet the U.S. in the middle. While it is certainly not the U.S.’ role to force its ideals on another country, it is our right to expect our trade partners to treat their citizens humanely before we offer them the potential to profit from us.
The people of Cuba have been oppressed since Fidel Castro took his position as president in 1959. Since his reign, the U.S. has implemented numerous restrictions regarding trade and travel.
Today, Cuba’s people hold almost no power to represent or defend themselves against the government when it comes to basic civil liberties.
Cuba’s government implements strict regulations on the lives of Cuban residents. They play little role in their government’s actions, and most are forced to live under poor conditions since necessities are divided equally among the people of Cuba.
Since 1959, the Communist Party of Cuba has maintained control of government offices. There was no change in government leadership until Raul Castro took his brother’s place in 2008 after an undisclosed illness ended Fidel’s ability to rule.
Political organization outside of the party is deemed illegal, and dissent is treated as a crime. The very nature of the current Cuban government’s is contrary to the beliefs of most Americans.
Last year, Obama was seen shaking hands with Raul. It was a simple gesture that symbolized an enormous step with Cuban-American relations. After this moment, Obama began to discuss widening travel opportunities between the countries, along with lifting trade restrictions that were implemented for a reason.
Adjustments to the embargo on Cuban-American trade have been made within the last 14 months, and diplomatic relations have been restored after about 50 years without any diplomatic communication.
Cuba’s lack of democracy coincides with its government’s lack of regard for human rights. According to FreedomHouse.org, on a scale of one to seven — one being the best and seven being the worst — Cuba falls at a six for civil liberties and a seven for political rights.
If Cuba agreed to make political changes in order to compromise with the U.S. for the purpose of expanding trade and travel between the two countries, there would be a basis for reconnecting diplomatic ties.
But the fact is that Cuba is still communist and the U.S. shouldn’t rid itself so quickly of the regulations it has imposed for the last 50 years.
Sarah Pineda is a freshman majoring in mass communications.