Thursday, May 26, 2011

Going to Cuba?: The wrong itinerary

Going to Cuba?: The wrong itinerary
Thursday, May 26, 2011

Americans pondering a jaunt to Cuba this year under relaxed travel
restrictions won't be able to pop in and say "hello" to Alan Gross. Nor
will they find him in the isle's nightclubs or smoking one of its famous
stogies in a comfortable chaise longue.

No, Mr. Gross, 61, a Maryland subcontractor, is doing 15 years in a
Cuban prison on trumped-up charges of conspiring against "the integrity
and independence of Cuba" for illegally importing computer gear. The
Obama administration's crack foreign policy team has been entirely
ineffectual in securing his release. Even Jimmy Carter, on a trip to the
communist island in March, couldn't liberal up a pardon -- although an
appeal reportedly is pending.

Yet despite Cuba's latest flagrant nose-thumbing, the U.S. is moving
ahead with a new travel policy that's supposed to bring everyday Cubans
and Americans together, supposedly for mutual understanding.

Even if Mr. Gross is released tomorrow, lifting the travel ban won't sow
the seeds of democracy, free enterprise and liberty in the hardened
concrete of Cuban communism.

"The only thing it does is provide hard currency for a totalitarian
regime," says U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who grew up in a
Cuban-exile family.

In fostering "better understanding," we doubt any travel itinerary will
include Cuba's despicable accommodations for political prisoners.

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