http://havanajournal.com/cuban_americans/entry/cuban-americans-want-cuba-travel-restrictions-lifted-diaz-balart-says-no/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Cuban Americans want Cuba travel restrictions lifted but Diaz-Balart says no

Posted December 05, 2006 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Associated Press

Twenty mostly Cuban exile organizations called on the U.S. government Monday to relax travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit family on the island nation and to permit Americans to send humanitarian aid to the communist country.

The request by the coalition Cuban Consensus comes weeks after top Cuban dissidents made similar requests. The move comes at a time of great political uncertainty in Cuba, where 80-year-old Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother Defense Minister Raul Castro more than four months ago following intestinal surgery.

It also comes two days after Raul Castro reached out to the United States during a major military parade, offering to discuss the two countries’ differences on equal terms. Fidel Castro did not appear at the parade as many Cubans had anticipated, making it seem more likely that Raul Castro will be the Cuban leader the U.S. deals with in the future.

The request also highlights the changing political views among the exile community over how to respond to the Cuban government’s restrictions on freedom of expression and movement.

Among those demanding the changes is The Cuba Study Group, a nonpartisan Washington-based organization of business and community leaders, the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, as well as the association of Independent Libraries of Cuba.

“I came from the hard-line position,” Cuba Study Group Co-Chairman Carlos Saladrigas said. “But isolating a people has not brought us change in 47 years. Isolating a people only helps to support the dictatorship.”

Saladrigas added that the opposite tactic was used to promote change in Eastern Europe.

“Why would we think that these measures that weren’t used in any of the transition processes in the Eastern European countries would work here?” he said.

The coalition said the restrictions implemented by the U.S., as well as those of the Cuban government, which severely restricts the travel of its citizens, violate fundamental human rights.

Republican U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, a longtime supporter of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, said he was glad to see growing consensus among Cuban organizations but that the coalition was missing the larger issue

“The genuine consensus that needs to be emphasized at this critical moment must be focused on the immediate liberation of all political prisoners without exceptions and in the scheduling of free, multiparty elections in Cuba, not in unilateral concessions to the dictatorship,” he said.

The coalition is taking aim in particular at U.S. restrictions implemented in 2004 that made it more difficult for academic and humanitarian groups to travel to the island and limited the number of times Cubans can visit their families there from once a year to once every three years.

At the same time, the coalition is calling on Fidel Castro’s government to make it easier for Cubans to visit their family outside the island, as well as reducing the costs necessary to obtain permission to leave the country. They are also asking the Cuban government to cut the country’s high long-distance telephone taxes and provide citizens access to he Internet.

Member Comments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 05, 2006, J. Perez wrote:

Forget Diaz-Balart and Co., they are in a minority now, this is the time for all Cubans of common sense to apply the same kind of pressure on Democrats that the extremists in Miami have applied on Republicans for years. Freedom to travel is one of those sacred rights on which this Republic was founded.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

You’re exactly right, J. Perez.  Things will definitely start changing now that the Democrats are in power and politics in Miami are changing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, publisher wrote:

MiamiCuban,

How are politics in Miami changing?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Diaz Balart is Fidel’s nephew. His my way or the highway approach is steeped in a philosophy that is very much like what is going on in Iraq. A Tailspin. His argument is hollow, and has no history to substantiate it. However, the larger picture, by Diaz-Balart’s reckoning is not free elections, or the release of political prisoners, it is rather the return of Cuba to the rule of yore. He and his merry band of self serving idealogues want the US to invade Cuba, on the pretext of liberation, and install a US friendly Govt. that is run by the Diaz-Balart cabal. We often hear these so-called patriots wax lyrical of their glorious days in Cuba, living in mansions, commanding a stable of servants. Ask the average Cuban if that is what they want, and the answer is an emphatic no.
Now, Diaz Balart and his merry band should ask themselves the following questions:
1) How can they justify the flawed electoral process in the US?
2) For an ostensible democracy, why are the residents of DC, Guam, PR not allowed to vote?
3) How can they justify the torture carried out at Gitmo, Abu Gharib, and the rendition process?
4) How can they justify cutting of funds to families in Cuba?
5) How can they justify the mess in Iraq?
6) Why are the victims of Katrina and Rita still without?
I could write a paper on these failings. However, given my 6 points, perhaps Diaz Balart nd his cabal should take the time to respond, in the context of Cuba.
You see the US is not such a hot democracy!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, publisher wrote:

Well said. If Diaz-Balart or any Embargo supporter asked these questions that would require open mindedness which would be too thought provoking which they are not capable of.

They pander to the old Cuban exiles that give them money. That’s it. They see no reason to look any further for direction.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

Publisher,

The change in Miami politics is noticeable in different ways.  For one, the voting seems to indicate that the Dems are on the rise (also, at the honk-and-waves for democratic candidates, I’ve seen the change in the response from the public..the enthusiasm grows with every election).  Also, if you talk to the newer generation of Cubans, they don’t have the same anti-Castro fervor as their parents and grandparents did.  There is a definite openness towards relations between the two countries and I think this will only continue to grow.  Miami used to be predominantly Cuba, but the cultural landscape is changing and there are more citizens now from other Latin American countries.  And because many of these people are aware of the devastating effects of free trade in their countries, they are more inclined to side with the Democrats.  Overall, I see a definite decrease in the strong Republican base there once was, and in the long run this will only help draw Cuba and the U.S. closer. 

What are your thoughts?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, J. Perez wrote:

I definitely agree, Miami politics are changing and that can only help.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, publisher wrote:

MiamiCuban,

I live in Massachusetts and my senators are Ted Kennedy and John Kerry so no worry about Republicans in this state although I am one (unfortunately).

Thanks for you insight into Miami politics. Makes sense from this angle but I don’t understand what you mean by

“And because many of these people are aware of the devastating effects of free trade in their countries, they are more inclined to side with the Democrats.”

How does free trade have a devastating effect?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

One example: the pesticide Nemagon is banned in the U.S. because of its harmful effects on humans, but the American companies use it in Nicaragua because the trade agreements allow them to use it there, and the result is that many Nicaraguans are suffering cancers, etc.  Another example would be the “free zone” areas in Jamaica for instance, where there’s basically slave labor and with no right to unions.  There’s really no such thing as “free and fair trade”, it only benefits the companies.  People are waking up to this, and those many Dems have voted for CAFTA, NAFTA and such, it’s usually Republicans who favor these agreements because of the monies they receive for their political campaigns.  Vicious cycle, huh?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, publisher wrote:

The problem is not free trade in Nicaragua, it’s the government of Nicaragua.

You are talking to a real capitalist here.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

Right, the Latin Amer government panders to the foreign companies so that they and their rich friends can benefit from sweet deals, all at the expense of the people, naturally.  But did you ever wonder what happens when a Latin Amer president sides with his own people and stands up to these companies?  Life will not be easy for him from then on.  He’ll end up either assassinated or his country is invaded (a/k/a Iraq).  Of course, that’s never the way its presented in the media.  He’s made to look like a bad guy, and if he’s already a bad guy, they’ll make him look worse so that intervention is justified.  Examplels are Arbenz and Torrijos, who both died in “plane accidents” several months from each other.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, publisher wrote:

Well, I can’t say I know anything about that but I still have to say that a free market economy is better than a centrally controlled government economy.

People can make arguments against the free market in the US too.

Growth and freedom is give and take, politically, socially, economically etc. When things are “perfect” then it’s not long until something disruptive comes along.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 06, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

Publisher, I don’t disagree with you.  Perhaps a blend of both worlds would work best?  Capitalism would work fine if all the people involved in buying and trading were conscientious, fair, intelligent, moral, and respected others’ rights.  But that’s hardly the case, and what happens is you get a few extremely greedy and unscrupulous people who tamper with the supply and demand formulas that are supposed to work of their own accord.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 08, 2006, Yuca wrote:

Diaz Balart like many of these so called Cuban American leaders are nothing more then the products of their exile parents, I best describe them as “projects” rather then products.

The likes of Diaz Balart are projects of their parents, the emphasis of the elder exiles “projects” was to raise their young with as much one sided views of Cuban politics as possible,in order to raise Cuban American leaders that would continue to battle Castro and Cuba with the elders frame of thought.

Who are these Cuban American leaders anyway?

What do they know about life in Cuba,besides what was told to them?

Lincoln D. Balart was born in 1954 in Cuba,brother Mario was born in 61 in Ft. Lauderdale.

Ros- Lehtinen was born in 1952 in Cuba.

Manny Diaz born in 1954 in Cuba.

Alex Penelas born in 1961 in Miami.

I’d like to know how these Cuban American leaders come to their political conclusions on Cuba,besides being the PROJECTS of their parents?

I’d like to know how many family members of theirs are still living in Cuba?

None, have any idea on what’s best for Cuba,as all are more American then Cuban,and some actually were born American,making them even less creditable when debating Cuban life issues.

During the last elections I along with thousands of YUCA’s (Young Urban Cuban Americans) were part of an underground movement (YUCA) that saw nearly 30,000 YUCA’s vote against Republicans,and those were of YUCA’s within the movement,I imagine many more voted against Republicans.

The tide has in fact changed in Miami as more and more younger YUCA’s are starting to research issues while coming to their own conclusions,rather then becoming “PROJECTS” themselves.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 08, 2006, publisher wrote:

Yuca said “I’d like to know how many family members of theirs are still living in Cuba?”

As you know, Fidel Castro is the uncle to the Diaz-Balart brothers.

The Embargo is little more than a family feud.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 10, 2006, Curt wrote:

If Diaz-Balart ever became president of Cuba there would be much more repression than there is now.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 13, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

Actually, Fidel is the ex-brother-in-law of Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.  Fidel’s first wife, Mirta, is Mario and Lincoln’s sister (I think she’s living in Spain now).

Curt:  I agree totally with your last comment.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 13, 2006, publisher wrote:

I think Mirta is their Aunt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 13, 2006, MiamiCuban wrote:

Yes, sorry about that.  She’s the sister of Mario’s and Lincoln’s father.  In any event you’re right, it seems to be all about a family feud.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On December 19, 2006, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Actually, Mirta, married Fidel’s bitter opponent, and went to live in Spain. If all accounts are true, she is currently in CUba, and is reported to have visited him in hospital. I suspect the Old Flame still flicks!