My parents fled our native Cuba in 1961 with my brother and me so they could raise their sons in the land of freedom and opportunity. As a proud Cuban-American who was only 5 when I arrived in this country, I have always been an ardent supporter of the trade embargo. My position has never wavered because I truly believe that lifting the embargo empowers the Cuban government to spread its ideology (e.g., Venezuela) and continue its oppressive style of rule.
The apologists for the Cuban government continue to demonize us as dinosaurs who are out of touch with reality. I do not expect them or any other person who is not Cuban-American to agree with me or share my passion. It would be unfair. But I would like to speak of the reality that we must be in touch with. Lift the travel ban. Yes, lift the travel ban, unilaterally and unconditionally, for any and all Americans to freely and openly travel to Cuba.
It is one of our basic rights as Americans to be able to travel to foreign lands at our leisure and pleasure. This may empower their government to a degree, but more importantly it will empower the Cuban people with direct access to basic needs from friends and families here in America. It will empower the Cuban people with access to free flow of information and ideology — American ideology that embraces freedom of expression, economic opportunity, education instead of indoctrination, open and free elections.
It is time for all Americans on both sides of the issue with Cuba to come together, stop the finger pointing and take one major step. Lift the travel ban, and I am willing to bet everything else falls into place over time. All aboard!
Simon M. Canasi