After reading the Standard-Times' recent editorial regarding legislative efforts to lift the travel ban to Cuba, I felt the need to respond. This is an issue that my colleagues and I on the Agriculture Committee continue to examine and in the newspaper's analysis of the issue, I believe some pertinent concerns were overlooked.Without true liberty all the rum drinks taken in quaint old hotels while being served by quaintly oppressed peasants should taste bitter in the mouths of the thoughtless hypocrites and stooges who think they will be helping. For the ones who know the real score and still support a US policy that will give aid and comfort to our mortal enemies, the Communists: may Castro's rum turn to poison in their mouths.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence asserts with no equivocation that liberty is an inalienable right, granted to us by our Creator. The government of Cuba unequivocally disagrees with us on this point.
Fidel and Raul Castro have erected, as their own sister once said, "an enormous prison surrounded by water." According to the U.S. State Department, Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism, one of only four in the world.
The Cuban government, along with Syria, Iran and Sudan, has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism and engaged in the trade of prohibited materials with other state sponsors. It has allied itself with Hugo Chavez, FARC rebels in Colombia and Basque separatists in northern Spain, and it continues to harbor U.S. fugitives.
Further, the government of Cuba consistently ranks as one of the most repressive, draconian and abusive regimes in the world.
Our relations with Cuba are not merely an economic question, but a moral question as well.
I support our current agricultural export policy with Cuba because I believe that supplying this nation with foodstuffs lessens suffering among the citizens and drains the Castro regime of funds to spend on more belligerent uses. The humanitarian goal of feeding innocent people and the strategic goal of exhausting the funds of a totalitarian government outweigh the moral hazard of trading with a nation as corrupt as Cuba.
Our agricultural producers should rightly be proud of the role they play and the profits they earn in helping to protect the Cuban people.
However, the question of lifting the travel ban presents a different set of moral concerns. Tourists traveling to Cuba to spend their money will enrich the Castro regime, largely without ever seeing the desperate poverty and crushing oppression that the average Cuban faces. The tourism industry in Cuba is, in fact, run by their military and they will, without question, enact and enforce laws restricting the interaction of the Cuban poor with Americans on travel.
The money American tourists would trade for sandy beaches and quaint, old hotels will be funneled into the state-run business and the Cuban government's coffers, where it can be used for malicious activity.
It is possible that this money could be used to buy food from Texans or Georgians, but the Cuban government has a proven track-record of violent political repression, financing Marxist revolutionary movements in Latin America and arming terrorist organizations.
In your editorial, you cited a letter written by 74 members of Castro's opposition who support lifting the travel ban. It is unfortunate that you were not able to also consider a response letter sent to the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson, by several hundred former prisoners of Fidel Castro.
In their letter, they explained to Chairman Peterson: "We are former Cuban political prisoners, who have spent a combined 3,551 years in Castro's gulag. We are living testimony of the unspeakable tortures, cruelty and deprivations of the military dictatorship of the Castro brothers. (E)very dollar (this) legislation seeks to place in the coffers of the Castro regime will only be used to further repress the Cuban people."
The letter is a powerful statement about the true nature of the Cuban government and the lengths to which military dictatorships will go to maintain their grip on power.
As a Christian, I have a deeply held conviction that the oppression of the Cuban people by the brutal Castro regime is morally reprehensible. While I am a strong supporter of existing and improved agricultural export relations with Cuba, lifting the travel ban and opening Cuba to American tourism is an issue separate from those exports. Lifting the ban would strengthen the Castro regime and enrich a state-sponsor of terrorism.
In my travels and meetings in Congress, I have met with many Cuban refugees. I have heard the depths of their suffering and I look forward to the day when all Cubans live in a nation free from fear, repression and retribution.
However, unilaterally lifting the travel ban, with no commitment from the Cuban government to improve its record on human rights, political freedom and economic openness, will not meet this goal.
Our nation should work toward free elections in Cuba with every tool and resource at our disposal. When that day finally does come, Americans and Cubans alike will enjoy the freedom to travel between our countries; but most importantly, Cubans will finally get to enjoy true liberty, a God-given human right.
June 21, 2010
Babalu blog, my favorite anti-communist source, who got it via Capitol Hill Cubans. Its a good, short read by U.S. Representative Mike Conaway of Texas, a Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, in the San Angelo Standard-Times: