The First Step of an Important Journey


Two old hands at foreign and security policy, Senator Dick Lugar and Congressman Howard Berman, have just published a piece - “Lift the Ban – Let Americans Visit Cubaâ€Â - that provides a much-needed breath of fresh air to a U.S. policy so stale that it stinks.

In addition to the policy failure, the two gentlemen point out this salient reality:

…travel restrictions…impede the right of Americans to freedom of speech, association and to travel…nothing about the Cuba situation today justifies such an infringement on our basic liberties.

We might add that to allow a situation in which an ethnic minority in the U.S. - Cuban-Americans - can travel to Cuba while most Americans cannot, is an even more egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution.

On these merits alone, the “full travel to Cubaâ€Â legislation, now working its way through both houses of Congress, should pass overwhelmingly - despite the rearguard actions of those in the Congress and elsewhere whose true motivations have been exposed in none other than The Miami Herald.

Exposed a few days ago, on the pages of that paper, were the huge sums of money being paid into the political enterprises of these Congressmen and women by those whose self-interest is in keeping the U.S. isolated from the rest of the world with regard to Cuba.

Most significantly, our isolation in our own hemisphere is becoming downright dangerous. There isn’t a leader in the region, from Brazil’s Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva to Canada’s Stephen Harper, who hasn’t said to President Obama that enough is enough: lift the embargo on Cuba.

While full travel for all Americans is not lifting the embargo nor normalized relations - as the U.S. has with Vietnam, for example - it is an incremental step in the right direction, as Senator Lugar and Congressman Berman intimate.

Every journey requires a first step. It’s high time America took this one.

-- Lawrence Wilkerson