[Marxism] Travel regulations undermine family values (HRW in MH)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 21 04:05:12 MDT 2005

Given the freaked-out response by the Miami exile militants and
their political representatives, it's important to be familiar in
some detail with the HRW report, which provides certain valuable
insights in its criticism of Washington's policies toward Cuba.
This article published in today's MIAMI HERALD indicatess that
HRW is making something of a campaign around this, which can be
helpful in educating the public about the harm which the Bush
policies are doing to US interests in relation to Cuba and as 
you can see, in this commentary, they put the emphasis where it
belongs, on the responsibility of the United States government.

Here's the MIAMI HERALD report on the HRW report yesterday:

It's easy to see and say this is but a tactical disagreement 
being expressed, but imagine how important and how positive a
step it would be to end the current U.S. policy toward Cuba of
attempting to strangle the country in order to bring it to heel?
This is one of those moments were it wouldn't serve any purpose
to argue about their use of the term "embargo" as against using
the more accurate "blockade". They want the policy changed and
while the way they motivate it isn't the best way to motivate 
such a change, what's decive is to change the policy. Further,
given the setback yesterday in congress over travel, statements
like these are even more appropriate and timely as they help to
keep public attention and discussion focused on Cuba travel.

And given the role HRW has played toward Cuba in the past, this
is a signficant change in a much better direction.

Posted on Fri, Oct. 21, 2005	

Travel regulations undermine family values

daniel.wilkinson at hrw.org

Among the many injustices Cubans endure today are restrictions on
travel that prevent them from reuniting with family members abroad.
These restrictions have torn young children away from their parents,
destroyed marriages and kept exiles from visiting and caring for
their aging or dying parents in Cuba. Cubans may expect such state
control over their lives coming from a government that has
systematically deprived them of the most basic freedoms for years.

But, unfortunately, it's not just Cuba imposing the travel
restrictions; it's also the United States.

Fourteen months ago, the Bush administration established strict
limits on family-related travel to Cuba with the aim of depriving the
Cuban government of the millions of dollars of revenue generated by
these trips.

Under these new rules, individuals are allowed to visit relatives in
Cuba only once every three years -- and only if these relatives fit
the administration's narrow definition of ''family.'' This definition
excludes aunts, uncles, cousins and other next-of-kin who often are
core members of a typical Cuban family.

It's hard to think of a policy that so blatantly contradicts the
values that the Bush administration espouses. ''Freedom'' was the
central theme of President Bush's second inaugural address. Freedom
is what the United States is fighting for in Iraq, Bush has
repeatedly told U.S. forces. According to U.S. officials, it is what
the embargo is supposed to be promoting in Cuba. Yet in the name of
promoting freedom in Cuba, the administration has severely undermined
the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans.

Few could appreciate this irony more than U.S. Army Sgt. Carlos Lazo.
After serving as a combat medic in the battle of Fallujah, he was
told he couldn't visit his two teenage sons in Havana during a
two-week furlough last year. He returned to the frontlines not
knowing if he would ever see them again.

''I did my duty in Iraq, even when it meant I could lose my life,''
he said. ``But I think I also need to do my duty as a father.''

''Family values'' has been another guiding theme for Bush. Yet, like
Lazo, many Cuban Americans have found themselves unable to fulfill
basic familial obligations as a result of the travel policy. Marisela
Romero, a Cuban-born American, was forced to end her frequent trips
to care for her ailing father, a widower with advanced Alzheimer's
disease and no immediate relatives left in Cuba. She was unable to
help or comfort him as he succumbed to depression, stopped eating and
eventually died.

The U.S. economic embargo of Cuba has been in place for more than
four decades. Cuba is no more democratic now than it was 40 years
ago. If anything, the embargo has consolidated Fidel Castro's hold 
on power. Because it is indiscriminate, rather than targeted, the
embargo has enabled the Cuban government to shift blame to the United
States for the Cuban people's suffering. Because it is bitterly
opposed by most nations, it has enabled the Cuban government to
divide the international community, easing international pressure 
on the Castro's government rather than increasing it.

Cuban Americans would like to see greater freedom in Cuba. But the
imposition of state controls on their travel will not bring that
change. It only reminds them of the kind of policy they hoped to
leave behind when they came to the United States.

''I came to this country in search of freedom,'' Romero said about
America. ''And now I feel like someone is taking away this freedom
that I came here for.'' She added, ``How can such a beautiful country
have a law like this?''

Daniel Wilkinson is counsel for the Americas division of Human Rights
Watch and the author of the new report ``Families Torn Apart: The
High Cost of U.S. and Cuban Travel Restrictions.''

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