In this week's Travel Weekly, Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann wrote about the vehemence with which Cuban-Americans in the travel industry have attacked ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) executives and board members for reiterating their support last month for ending restrictions for travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens. Weissmann began his piece with a poignant anecdote:
"My parents were buying a new car just as I got my first driver's license, so I had a vested interest in what model they would choose. I suggested a Volkswagen Beetle. 'Never,' my father said. 'They're made in Germany.' To a Jewish World War II vet, that was reason enough. To my baby boomer ears, it sounded like he was living in the past."
Thus it is with Cuba. The argument given by indignant Cuban-Americans is always that people who wish to visit Cuba are "supporting a dictatorship!" Under the same argument, here are a few other places that should be off-limits:
- Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, and a dozen other Muslim states for the appalling way they treat women
- Japan and Norway, for the appalling way they treat whales
- China, for the disgraceful way it suppresses Tibetans
- Russia and several former Soviet satellite nations for their violent suppression of freedom of speech
- And the list goes on.....
Perhaps Cuban-Americans who wish to visit these places should be prevented from doing so? Even punished!
I know how they'd respond. "It's my constitutional right to travel where I wish!" Or "I'll make my own mind up, thank you!" And "Who are you to dictate where and when I can go?"
And that's the point! Every U.S. citizen should be free to exercise his and her constitutional right to visit Cuba or anywhere else they choose. And to make up their own minds in the process.
Weissmann ended on this very note: "At the end of the day, it's the reality of Cuba that presents the strongest argument against its dictatorship. Americans should be allowed to see that for themselves."
I understand where Cuban-Americans are coming from. I have empathy for their position. But it doesn't take much gray matter to understand that the stale argument trotted out by Cuban-Americans hides the real reason they don't want you and I to visit Cuba. Like Weissmann's dad, they can't let go of sour grapes.
Help end the travel ban to Cuba! Click to support bipartisan bill H.R.874