Cuban Disconnect

As we well know, what happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington. The ripple effects are impactful and not always helpful. The most recent, and all-too-familiar, Exhibit A: the Trump Administration’s crackdown on travel to Cuba. It has banned “people to people” group travel. It also has banned cruise ships, yachts, fishing boats and private aircraft from stopping in Cuba. It’s all about squeezing the Cuban government for its “destabilizing” support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. As if anything were more Hemispherically destabilizing than the Trump presidency. Too bad we can’t ban bullying, pandering and hypocrisy.

More to the point, it’s all about squeezing as much political capital out of a renewed, neo-con approach to Cuba after the Obama Administration’s rapprochement. Florida is the ultimate swing state and there is still enough hard-line South Florida sentiment favoring a crackdown on the Cuban government to make it politically expedient for Donald Trump, Ron De Santis, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio in a close-call state. Too bad most Americans remain indifferent to the issue. There’s never enough pushback–even if it’s just to say how dare Trump and John Bolton dictate where we can travel. We’re not talking Yemen.

And how ironic that this heavy-handed, Cold War approach is so blatantly counterproductive. It further diminishes the U.S.–from the OAS to the UN–as a credible, non-hypocritical force for what is right. It adversely affects the Cuban people, and no state is more impacted than Florida. Travel-related economic synergy is a reality, and collateral damage to port and transfer-point cities, such as Tampa, is a given.

“(This) does nothing to hurt the Cuban government,” underscores Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, “rather Cuban entrepreneurs, American businesses and the American public will be the ones to suffer.

“The Cold War policies of the past were ineffective in improving human rights, and yet the Trump Administration takes America backwards to a dark time of isolation and suspicion.”

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