Here is a brief editorial in response to George Bush’s recent statement on Cuba and particularly the present travel ban. You are welcome to copy and distribute.
Jose Marti, the revered poet of Cuba once wrote, “Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom.” In an ironic twist these words now seem to apply to the United States with regard to its ban on travel to Cuba.
The freedom to travel anywhere has been an historic right of all Americans since the origin of the republic. Many argue that the founding fathers never specifically included this right in the original Bill of Rights because they thought it so ludicrous and unimaginable that any nation of free men would ever attempt to limit travel of its citizens. Such a presumption of power and attempted over-control by any government was probably anathama to men like Jefferson and Washington. And, as time has shown, it has certainly been the ploy of tyrants and dictators to try and limit the freedom of travel of their citizens. In the past, as a nation, we have roundly condemned other countries for such practices, and rightly so. Yet we, as free citizens, have allowed this injustice to be perpetuated in our own time and to our own selves.
The Supreme Court declared as “unconstitutional” the original Eisenhower ban on travel to Cuba, to their enduring credit. Yet, as they will, certain individuals in power, by their cleverness and cunning, evaded this dictate by then making it illegal, through treasury department regulation, for a U.S. citizens to spend an American dollar in Cuba. In so doing they insulted both the spirit of the law and the intent of the court. More importantly they abrogated a declared constitutional right. And please remember, men and women have died defending these rights and ideals, and still do.
To be made a federal criminal, to be prosecuted for traveling to Cuba, which involves spending money, is a travesty of the law. “Unpermitted travel” sounds a lot like the old Russian talk to me. To now hear national leaders use the term “illegal travel” is a bit disconcerting. It is to mimic the very behavior that we say we oppose in others.
The Cuba travel ban is an overreach and abuse of power by the federal government and was brought about by questionable and somewhat scurrilous means. Of such things tyranny is born…. and precious liberties lost. For as Marti noted, it is only oppression that fears the full exercise of freedom.
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