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Posted June 18, 2003 by publisher in US Embargo

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Northwest Indiana News

Our opinion: The political dimension aside, the United States and Cuba need to work on improving relations with each other.

When nations battle, even if it’s little more than a war of words, innocent people can get caught in the middle.
Including Susely Pipping of Hammond.

She’s a native of Cuba who went back to her homeland recently to visit her sick mother. Because of a minor problem with her passport, the Cuban government has not allowed her to leave.

Her husband, Donald Pipping, is a frequent visitor to Cuba. He estimates he has been there about 40 times since 1998. That’s how he met his wife, who was a ballerina. She’s now a waitress at Cracker Barrel in Hammond.

He’s not too worried about his wife being unable to leave the country at the moment. If he can’t get the problem solved, he’ll just move to Cuba, he said.

The Pippings are on a deadline, though. As a new wife, she has a two-year temporary permit as a U.S. resident. It expires Sept. 15. But to apply for permanent residency, she has to be back in the United States.

Complicating what ordinarily would be an easy problem to resolve is the strained relationship between the United States and Cuba. A U.S. embargo against trade with Cuba has been in place since 1961, yet Fidel Castro and his communist party remain in power.

And Cubans continue to flee the country. Some 2,600 Cubans attempted crossing the Straits of Florida in 2001, about a third of whom were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard. Many of them used homemade rafts.

Richard Rupp, professional of international relations at Purdue University Calumet, said relations between the United States and Cuba have deteriorated since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

President Bush is understandably preoccupied with events in the Middle East. But sitting about 90 miles south of Key West, Fla., is a country the size of Pennsylvania that has been a thorn in the side of the United States for decades. Ignoring it won’t make it go away.

It is unfortunate that innocent snags happen to U.S. citizens and legal residents with ties to Cuba—including Susely Pipping.

The political dimensions aside, the United States and Cuba need to work on improving human relations with each other.

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