Have we forgotten why we should care about freedom for the Cuban people?

Last week the business-focused Bloomberg News Service reported that the Obama Administration is likely to further ease travel restrictions to Cuba in furtherance of the progressive goal of ending the decades-old travel ban to the Communist island. The lifting of the ban is another step in eroding the impact of the embargo and allowing those ready to profit on trade with Cuba to hit it big. Someday very soon, the debate of what action the United States should take against Cuba to effect a transition to democracy will reach its overdue conclusion and most likely the Cuban people will continue to live under the tyranny of total dependence on a deceptive government whose focus remains on perpetuating their poli-stocracy.

The story was reported like all stories regarding Cuba are reported; it lacked the necessary context to allow the reader to understand why the ban exists in the first place. While the focus of the article was increasing educational visas for American students, the story failed to mention that those students are quarantined from the Cuban population and are only allowed to interact with those that the Cuban government permits.

It is incumbent on our generation, we the 20 and 30-somethings, to remember the suffering and permanent scars bore by our families in their stories of success while living in exile. Our inherited good fortune requires us to be responsible for honoring their struggle by showing the rest of America why they too should care about a free Cuba. We should be proud to be offended at the shameless indifference that is displayed when someone lights up a Cuban cigar or opens a bottle of Havana Club Rum. These products are made on stolen property whose current profiteers took and hold their power and wealth by force and deception at the expense of those that they manipulate, confine, and cause to suffer in total dependence for food, clothing, and, almost as important, information.

The nature of our progressive mentality in the U.S. leads to the group-think that it is America’s policy that isolates Cuba and our policy is preventing the progress that could come from an open exchange of tourists and trade. The special interests that support the politicians that encourage this type of thought fail to explain that the policy of America for the last fifty years (including the 8 years under President Bush) support the lifting of the embargo upon the release of the political prisoners and after the free and fair elections that Castro promised fifty years ago when he was working to gain the support of the wealthy and middle classes in Cuba.

The current American policy is not irrational nor an extreme sentiment and it is not the reason the Cuban people are poor. What doesn’t make sense is how quick we are to forget that the Cuban government confines their population into poverty, convinces their own population and Americans that it is the U.S. Government’s fault, and then jails those that disagree or voice opposition against their corrupt government.

Rather than being passively indifferent, we should be proud to challenge those that dismiss the reality in Cuba and buy into the propaganda. Whatever shape U.S. policy takes, embargo or no embargo, it is our responsibility to use our power as individuals to boycott additional wealth to the Cuban government and to voice our opposition against the continued oppression of the Cuban people. The pain felt by our families is 50 years fresh and should not be forgotten.

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