News & Politics

Respecting Human Rights in Cuba Would Mean Ending the Embargo, Total Freedom to Travel and Shutting Down Gitmo

Actual change in U.S.-policy would decriminalize travel to Cuba by any U.S. citizen or resident and allow Cuba to do business and trade freely.

A big story unfolding Monday was the announcement that Obama has directed his administration "to allow unlimited travel and money transfers by Cuban Americans to family in Cuba." This comes as little surprise given that Obama pledged bluntly to do so while on the campaign trail (which was hardy a bold move given that it has wide support among Miami Cubans).

As I have pointed out before, while this is definitely a step in the right direction, Obama’s move to ease some travel restrictions (not all U.S. citizens will be allowed, only those with family in Cuba) are being framed with anti-Cuba rhetoric and do not do anything to address the decades-long economic blockade of Cuba. Actual change in U.S.-policy toward Cuba would decriminalize travel to Cuba by any U.S. citizen or resident and allow Cuba to do business and trade freely and openly with whomever it chooses. Moreover, respecting human rights in Cuba would also include shutting down the U.S. gulag at Guantanamo and giving that territory back to Cuba.

Consider this: A recent report in the Wall Street Journal cites a senior U.S. official, revealing, "President Obama doesn’t intend to call for lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba, which would require congressional action, nor is any specific diplomatic outreach contemplated." This point was also made clear by Vice President Joe Biden last month on a visit to Latin America when asked if Obama would lift the blockade. Biden responded bluntly, "No."

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
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