Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who will pay the price?

By Ariel Fernandez Diaz, El Diario La Prensa
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We know that, historically, the everyday citizen ends up paying the price for political games. That is why the recent attempts by the Obama administration to eliminate restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba for Cubans living in the United States, as well as the possibility that all U.S. citizens could freely visit the island, have been favorably received by the residents of both countries.

The dispute between Cuba and the United States has had a severe impact on the lives of millions of Cubans and Americans for almost half a century, isolating us through policies that make no sense. The American blockade of the island has not affected the Cuban political hierarchy and their immediate families whatsoever. Those who determine this country's policies have not been affected either.

The blockade punishes and affects the Cuban people unjustly. As a foreign policy, it does not contain solid arguments. To put it simply, as much as it may hurt to hear it, it has failed.

Whatever the battle is against the Castro brothers and Communist ideology, those who are not responsible should not be blamed.

The embargo against Cuba is and has been an agenda maintained by hate, rancor, inertia, and ego. It lacks ideological pragmatism and political effectiveness. It contradicts the democratic values that the United States promotes globally, and it affects and ironically limits the citizens of the "free world."

Cuba and its people have not done more damage to the United States than Vietnam, Japan, or any other country with which the United States has had a military conflict and has normal diplomatic relations today.

Why then do we isolate Cuba exclusively? This is the $100 million question to which no one has a concrete answer.

If the U.S. government really wants change on the island, it cannot be promoted through sanctions and blockades.

To promote change, a new political ethic must be constructed, a new discourse of dialogue and negotiation. Nothing will help and affect the Cuban people more than social and cultural exchange with regular American citizens.

Nothing will bring democracy to Cuban society or show Americans the "real" Cuba more than this interaction. Both governments know this and greatly fear the possible impact this would have. As much as the word "change" has been used here and on the island, the governments are not prepared for it.

While the people in power continue to discuss the elimination of the restrictions, if they do not address the root problem and instead seek to regulate the matter, there will be an enormous impact on Cuban immigrants like myself. It is the right of all human beings and the goal of every immigrant in this country to be able to visit our families once a year, send them remittances and support them spiritually and economically. No one and nothing can deprive us of that.

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