Cuban Dissenters Support Ending the Travel Ban!

While the US Congress debates a bill to end the travel ban to Cuba, prominent dissidents have added their voice. In a letter made public on June 9th, 74 Cubans urged members of Congress to vote in favor of H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, legislation currently being considered by the House Committee on Agriculture that would restore the right of each and every U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, without getting a permission slip from Uncle Sam, and ease the sale of U.S. food to the island.

 

Among those who lent his or her voice to this stirring defense of the freedom to travel as a fundamental human right, and plea for increased contact with U.S. travelers are: the internationally-renowned blogger Yoani Sanchez, the only Cuban to have interviewed Barack Obama in his young presidency; Miriam Leiva, a co-founder of the Ladies in White, a group of a few dozen women whose relatives are political prisoners; and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas, who's been waging a hunger strike since late February in protest of conditions for ill prisoners.



Here are some memorable quotes from the letter:

"...the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society."


"The supportive presence of American citizens, their direct help, and the many opportunities for exchange, used effectively and in the desired direction, would not be an abandonment of Cuban civil society but rather a force to strengthen it. Similarly, to further facilitate the sale of agricultural products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer."


"The current Cuban government has always violated this right and in recent years has justified its actions with the fact that the government of the United States also restricts its citizens' freedom to travel. The passage of this bill would remove this spurious justification."



As this letter makes abundantly clear, many of the dissidents in Cuba disagree with the decades-old, quid pro quo approach to US-Cuba policy and want to see U.S. travelers coming to the island and exchanging with everyday Cubans. Is this the game changer we've been waiting for? We might find out in the next few weeks.

 

To call your Rep and ask them to co-sponsor HR 4645, please click here.