http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/us-cyclists-denied-visas-from-us-to-participate-in-tour-of-cuba/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

US cyclists denied visas from US to participate in Tour of Cuba

Posted February 06, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Xinhua

American cyclists could be absent from the upcoming Tour of Cuba because the US government has denied their athletes visas, Jose Pelaez, president of the Cuban Cycling Federation told Cuban radio on Monday.

Pelaez, who is also president of the Pan-American Cycling Federation, said the cyclists would continue to seek visas until the last possible moment.

The US has been blockading Cuba since 1962 and is tightening its grip ever more, Pelaez said, estimating that some 96 athletes were barred from visiting Cuba in 2005 alone.

The Tour, which will take place from Feb.13-25, has attracted cyclists from Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Germany, Canada, San Marino and Austria.

Member Comments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 06, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

A rather interesting twist on FREEDOM! Perhaps, I am a little naive, but I was always under the impression that a true democracy does not DICTATE to its people which countries it can or cannot visit!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 06, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

I could care less if some U.S. cyclist are allowed or not, to travel to a country that the U.S. does not do “business” with.  Maybe they should let the cyclist go.  I mean honestly, don’t we have enough real problems in the world to be giving any atttention to the fake problems of some coddled athletes.  And how coddled is our own society in general that we cry wolf because these poor little cyclists rights are being violated in that they can’t go and pedal in of all places the Cuban land where the word DICTATE in it’s practice has put a country in ruin, destroyed families, caused the deaths of many at sea and on land.  It is a laughable and shameful thing to be whining about to me a Cuban-American and I would guess, most Cubans.  The cyclistmust feel so oppressed that their own motive to go is to defect for political asylum IN CUBA.  HA HA.  At the end of the day (non-Cuban)  American citizens are indeed not free to go to Cuba (Oh, woe is me), but they certainly are free to leave the U.S.A. if they find it so damn appalling and oppressive.  I for one could not imagine living here of my own free will and living here so unhappily when I really don’t have to be.  I am so grateful to be a part of this great country (warts and all) and to be able to express my opinions and hear the opinions of others however insightful, repulsive or naive they may be.  I certainly was not able to do that in Cuba, remember that’s the place where these unfree, violated and oppressed American cyclists want to go and pedal!  It is also the place where you can in it’s absence, find the true measure of what FREEDOM really is.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

In this day and age we have two groups of people. There is the one group who believes in real freedom, honest choice and dialogue. People like Wayne Smith, sports personalities, academics and just ordinary people are seriously interested in the deomcratic process. then there is the group who spend all their time venting their spleen with bile and venom. There is an old English adage to describe this sort of person…“perambulating on the outskirts of verbosity” which appropriately describes this the very group. This group always run away from the battle, looking for others to fight their fight. A true and honest broker will stand up and take a stance, which might not be popular or politically correct, giving opportunity for honest dissent. But he/she does take a stand. Many of those REAL freedom fighter stayed, paid a heavy price and effected a peacefully democratic change from within, and did finally gain the right of passage. One remembers fondly and with reverance Mahathma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, the leaders of East Timor, Rigoberta Menchu and others. It was their voice of peace and unity from within that effected the necessary change. Can one image the state of the world if they went along with the status quo, or advocated violence or even called for a blanket ostracization of their countries?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, publisher wrote:

Also more people are assigned to work on the Cuban Embargo at OFAC than are the number of people assigned to track Bin Laden’s money.

How come that doesn’t make the news.

Technically the cyclists can travel to Cuba they just can’t spend any money there. The Supreme Court has ruled that travel restrictions are unconstitutional.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Thank you Mr. Publisher. I think most of have come to the singular conclusion that our media has long abandoned its calling, and have settled for being a toothless wonder. This is exemplifed by the above and the fact that it is easier for our so-called reporters to spin off the WH talking points, than to come up with an original thought. Once upon a time I too spent a time in the Media, a Wahington major daily, an International Weekly and a Spanish Language weekly. Sadly, the days of Media independence is now marked by a headstone..“May We Rest in Peace”.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

Dear Publisher, I feel like I just read a Mexican Telenovela (your entry notwithstanding of course).  Well, back to the subject (and thanks for keeping me on subject, visavi your entry). 
I think (well, the way I see it) the reason the OFAC story versus the Bin Laden story, does not make the news is because media here is an industry of pandering to the public.  It’s a self editing media who’s goal is to reach the widest group possible of people so they can in the meantime sell whatever they are selling to satisfy their sponsors.  And this by the way, is worldwide.  I have been practically everywhere and have seen the same B.S. in all of the continents.  Of course except for the totalitarian states, that is really unbelievable.  Can you imagine the crap we would be hearing if the media here were a legal and institutional branch of Bush’s cabinet?  Haha, I guess we could all then call ourselves Cuban.  That’‘s how it is over there, they only report natural disasters, crime stories and racially biased crimes out of the U.S.  Hopefully the internet has come to unwittingly save the day!
Now, I did not know that technically the cyclists are allowed to travel to Cuba as long as they do not spend money there (as ruled by the Supreme Court).
Good for them!  They should appeal to the indicated court.  Maybe Jose Pelaez, President of the Cuban Cycling Federation, will get his way in our Judiciary branch.  It would be good to see our system of justice at work even for Mr. Pelaez and his growing cycling association (eventhough it is not really his but another smokescreen from the Cuban Regime to appear like any other “normally free” nation and to capitilize on U.S. victimization). 
I am a firm supporter of Cuba being a desination for all the high end glamourous sports in the world.  I would love to see a Tour de France style event take place there every year.  A tennis open, a baseball world series, a soccer cup, an Olympic game(summer of course), a Grand Prix (which began in the late fifties and sadly ended).  Oh, let’s not forget the Havana Regata that famously went on there for so many years.  Cuba is an excellent place for venues of that caliber.  We are geographically well placed, our climate is exceptional and the Cuban people have a great “aloha” disposition to them.  Apart from tourism it could be a source of great revenue to the nation.  I object to it now because I feel that it is inapropriate for these things kind of events to go on while Cubans are rotting in prisons and school teachers, professional women and women of all walks of like continue to work the sex industry for lack of any other options.
And no one politicises these sports industries more than the Cuban regime, so they can choke on it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, publisher wrote:

“Now, I did not know that technically the cyclists are allowed to travel to Cuba as long as they do not spend money there (as ruled by the Supreme Court).”

True for all Americans but the Embargo has been around for so long that people think it is illegal to travel to Cuba. So, you can be fined for “Trading with the enemy” which is what you would actually be violating should you spend money in Cuba.

Most Americans are so in the dark about US Cuba policy and laws that when the Embargo is lifted, Cuba will be the number one Caribbean travel destination for years and years. Travelers will choose Havana over Miami too. Perhaps another reason that the Embargo has gone on so long.

Anyway, I’m off topic so let me also pose the question to the Bush Administration and OFAC, exactly what is the harm of allowing bicyclists to compete in Cuba. They bring their freaking bike and probably sleep in tents on the side of the road.

I don’t see how that is bad. Just too bad that it doesn’t get more press.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

I honestly don’t know that it is bad.  Competitive sports events are a great medium for all nations of the world to come together and engage in inspiring physical feats that hopefully promote peace, tolerance and common understanding among the people of the world.  It is unfortunately also used to politcally engage other countries against eachother.  But I definitely feel that it is another stupid smokescreen issue especially from the Cuban side.  They create a drama when the embargo is vigorously enforced and they create a drama when the embargo is in it’s most relaxed state.  The name of their game is the blame game.  Without it they would have to take responsiblilty for the ruin of a country just to be able to stay in power.  That doesn’t get more press either.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 07, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

“exactly what is the harm of allowing bicyclists to compete in Cuba. They bring their freaking bike and probably sleep in tents on the side of the road.”

“I don’t see how that is bad. Just too bad that it doesn’t get more press.”

Publisher,
I just read the Oswaldo Paya UN resolution proposal article that you posted today.  For me, after reading the article it truly best describes why I find this whole cyclist drama unimportant to say the least.  As a matter of fact I find it typically cynical, hypocritcal and decadent of the Cuban Regime to make press releases over a matter like that of the cyclist when they’ve got these kind of declarations to answer for, pending in the U.N.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 08, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Mr. Publisher An honest and independent media does stipulate just that. Much of the news we see and hear today, in the US, is really a list of talking points issued by either the WH or the Republican spin machine. The media have abrogatted their role as a watchdog to the Govt. at hand. Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. (Fox’s parent) admitted just last week that his organization went along with the WH on Iraq and related claims.
Now as to foreign media. Each day our media spins the notion that Iran is cog that spurs and supports the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, the Pentagon has disputed that very idea. However, we still read and hear that spin, because it is a WH talking point.Perhaps, The Guardian of London, The Independent, Der Spiegel, Asia Times, Times of India, Rand Daily Mail are glaring examples of an Independent media. The Guardian and The Independent have not been shy about holding its Govt. accountable for its role in Iraq, the US rendition program, the killing of the young Brazilian man, who was falsely identified as one of the bombers in the London Bombing, going after Tony Blair in the FAVORS Scandal…and I can go on. I am glad to note that the only way a faction of our community with a rather diminished capacity can only dismiss honest discussion by referring to it as a Mexican   Telenovela. I cant comment on Telenovelas given that my Telly viewing centers on more intellectual programs.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 09, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

Soooo funny.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 11, 2007, Varsi Padayachee wrote:

Mr. Publisher: I am always up for an educated and intelligent response. Rather demonstrates one’s capacity, or lack thereof. But then again what would this world be like of all of us suffered from the “NODDY” syndrome

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On February 13, 2007, Pete Chavez wrote:

Dear Varsi,
What does “Noddy” Syndrome mean?