While more than 5% of Americans are direct descendants of Cuban residents, were Cuban residents themselves, or have family still in Cuba, there has been a longstanding order in place to prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba. All visitations must take place through an intermediary country. How long has this been happening? Since 1959, when America put into place countless economic, political, trade, fiscal and humanitarian embargoes against Cuban as a way to influence them to shut down their productions of missiles, nuclear factories, etc. and to sway them into leaning toward a pro-Democracy stance and to relinquish all ties to Communism. It has essentially been in place since Fidel Castro came into power.
Now the shocking part? Only within the past week have the embargoes for travel, humanitarian aid, and fiscal policy been lifted--thanks in part to a very liberal President, as opposed to the more moderate democratic Presidents before him. The 800-pound gorilla is still in the room though. We haven't agreed to yet lift the economic and trade embargoes with Cuba. It is still illegal to import and/or export goods, and to allow Cuba to tap into some of the (still-strong) American dollar, which Puerto Rico is allowed to do (and many other Caribbean nations also do).
Today Castro praised the steps made so far and is 'begging' (though he says Cuba will not beg) America to lift the trade embargoes as well. I am in complete support and think it's a necessary, proper, humanitarian and just plain mature move to make. We're not in 1960 any longer and Cuba can be a strong ally against many of the current threats facing America and the remainder of the world now.
What do you think? Could Cuba be an ally? Is there a large enough percentage of the population that can trace their ancestry back to Cuba that it warrants a strong national recognition in the way Puetro Rican and Mexican heritages have been awarded? Should there be a lifting of all embargoes, new discussions and a renewed atmosphere instituted?
Here's a kicker to assist in your decision: When hurricanes Rita and Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama, Cuba pledged $5 million for EACH of the states, no strings attached, as humanitarian aid if America would agree to do the same in the future if they were struck by a hurricane.
The former administration immediately turned down the offer and refused to assist in the future. From a humanitarian and good-natured, mature perspective, this is an outrage and now is the time to erase our past errors.