Characterizing recent efforts to ease the travel ban on Cuba as “misguided,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) delivered one the better speeches in recent memory about U.S. policy toward the Cuban dictatorship and the current human rights situation on the island. While I do not agree with the attacks on U.S. companies, the video is well worth the twenty minutes of your time.
The recent release of a handful of known political prisoners or opposition leaders, Menendez reminds folks that the forcible repatriation of the political prisoners from Cuba to Spain is a violation of international norms. With collaboration from the Cuban dictatorship, the socialist ruling party of Spain coordinated the well-orchestrated release timed to coincide with the travel debate in the U.S. Congress.
In light of the rampant human rights abuses on the island and Cuban tourism apartheid, where is outcry from the American Bar Association (ABA), human rights groups, or Big Law firms based in DC that, for example, rallied in recent years to defend, pro bono, the terrorists held in Guantanamo? Tumbleweed. As usual.
The Cuban dictatorship needs U.S. tourism travel and needs it badly to survive. Menendez reminds the Senate that tourism to Cuba is like Iran’s oil sector, a critical revenue source to prolong the dictatorship. Americans have plenty of places to visit throughout the Gulf region, the Caribbean as well as the the rest of the Western Hemisphere. There is no need to ease sanctions on the Cuban dictatorship. Leading opposition leaders in Cuba do not want the U.S. to do so, U.S. law or policy call for it.